Can the new-look Mavericks avoid last season's crippling 2-7 start? Well, to do so they will have to show some early season road mettle.
Dallas opens the season on Oct. 27 at home against Washington, but seven of its next 10 games are on the road, culminating with a four-game trip. That means new additions Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas must blend in quickly.
If there is any positive news about the early stretch, it is that the strength-of-opponents doesn't appear to be as severe as last year. Last season under first-year coach Rick Carlisle, the biggest reason the Mavericks stumbled from the gate was their 0-4 start at home against Houston, Cleveland, the Lakers and Orlando.
The Mavericks had to fight upstream the rest of the season, requiring a strong finish to reach the 50-win plateau for the ninth straight year and get the Western Conference's No. 6 playoff seed.
This season's first four home games are against Washington, Utah, Toronto and the injury-ravaged Rockets. That be a good thing, considering 12 of Dallas' first 20 games are on the road.
Naturally, the NBA schedule always evens out. In the Mavericks' case, they play eight of their 14 December games at home. And 12 of their 22 games in March and April are at home, culminating with the regular-season finale against rival San Antonio in the AAC.
There also is the previously announced 2009-2010 highlight in February, when NBA All-Star festivities take place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The three-day event culminates on Valentines Day at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, when league officials expect as many as 100,000 fans to attend the 59th NBA All-Star Game.
Other 2009-10 schedule highlights:
--Last season's schedule brought Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to Dallas just once. This season the World Champion Lakers, with new acquisition Ron Artest, come to the AAC on Jan. 13 and Feb. 24.
--Looking for early Christmas-present ideas? Cleveland, with reigning MVP LeBron James and his new mega-sized sidekick, Shaquille O'Neal, makes its only AAC appearance on Dec. 20.
--Many Mavericks fans will circle the late-season date of March 29. That is the only AAC regular-season appearance of the budding-rival Denver. Last season the Nuggets ousted the Mavericks four-games-to-one in a contentious second-round playoff series.
--Reigning NBA Finalist Orlando, with newcomers Vince Carter and former Maverick Brandon Bass, makes its only visit on April Fool's Day.