DALLAS _The Dallas Mavericks just passed the one-third mark of the 82-game season and went into the Christmas break with a solid 23-5 record.
But coach Rick Carlisle doesn't want anyone reading too much into his team's record, which includes an NBA-best 10-1 road worksheet.
"This is a long, long year,'' Carlisle said after Friday's practice at American Airlines Center. "We’re about a third of the way through in terms of the number of games played, but there’s a long way to go and a lot to be decided and I’ll be saying that when it’s four days left in the season.
"That’s just how it is every year. There’s a lot of things that change the last four or five days (of the season) in terms of seedings and all those kinds of things.''
The Mavs haven't played since winning at Orlando this past Tuesday, and won't play again until they face the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Monday. Center Tyson Chandler said the challenge for the Mavs is to stay aggressive, keep defending and the winning will take care of itself.
Chandler is also appreciative of the five-day break the NBA afforded the Mavs.
"We spend more time around each other than we do around our family and friends,'' Chandler said. "(The five-day break is) a good opportunity for us to see our children, see our family, and spend some time before we get back to this thing.
"I think this is great because a lot of times during the holiday season you’re playing games and you can lose focus because you’re distracted on everything else. You’ve got family in town, you’ve got to do Christmas shopping, you’ve got to do this and that. So it’s good to have this break at this time and not play, because it allows us to get Christmas out of the way and refocus on what we’ve got to do.''
The Mavs will come dashing out of the Christmas with five games in seven games, including a pair of back-to-backers. In addition to playing at Oklahoma City on Monday, Dallas hosts Toronto Tuesday and San Antonio on Thursday.
Then the Mavs open the new year with a game at Milwaukee on Jan.1 and at Cleveland on Jan. 2.
"This is uncharted territory for me,'' Carlisle said of the five-day break. "I've never had a five-day break at Christmas time. It’s great the week you go into it a bit on a roll, but we don’t take anything for granted.
"We know the challenges ahead and we know it's going to get very busy coming out of it, so we’ve got to make sure the preparation is appropriate, aggressive. We’ve got to continue along the same path.''
The Mavs trail the Spurs (25-4) by 1 1/2 games in the Southwest Division, and guard Jason Terry said the goal -- other than winning the NBA title -- is to win the Western Conference. And he believes the Mavs have the personnel to do it.
"Since they are close to us right now and they’re ahead of us, beating (the Spurs) would give us another game up,'' Terry said. "And so that’s what we’re looking at.
"I just think, to a man, we’re better than every team in the league. That's not anything personal against San Antonio. That's just how we feel confident about our situation.''
-- Dwain Price