DALLAS -- Starting with tonight's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, this is a big week for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs are at home all week to play three teams that are ahead of them in the standings. And if they want to get a foot back into the thick of the Western Conference race, the Mavs may need to sweep all three games, or at least come out of the pack with a 2-1 record.
After hosting the Timberwolves at 7:30 tonight, the Mavs entertain the Houston Rockets at 7 p.m. Wednesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The Mavs, of course, won't lump all three games together when discussing the tough task that's ahead of them.
"One game at a time -- that's how you've got to look at it,'' forward Shawn Marion said after this morning's shoot around at American Airlines Center. "We're able to do something here and it could mean something.''
The Mavs' confidence has grown since they've won their last two games after dropping 13 of their previous 15 games. This week, however, will go a long ways towards determining whether they've turned the corner.
"I'm not jumping the gun right now, we've got a long ways to go,'' Marion said. "We're just going to keep taking the little steps we need to (in order) to get to the right direction, and that's all that matters.''
Point guard Darren Collison also is hopeful that the Mavs can use the three games this week as a springboard to put their dark days behind them.
"This is huge,'' Collison said. "We have a great home stand push right now and we want to take advantage of it.
"We've just got to keep pushing at it. I don't want to talk too soon. I want our focus to remain the same, like it's been the last two games.''
The pesky Timberwolves already are 2-0 against Dallas this season. The Mavs lost both of those games even though Minnesota was without injured All-Star forward Kevin Love, who also will miss tonight's game with a fractured hand.
As he reflects on the past two games, Marion believes the Mavs are just rounding into shape and are close to being the team everyone thought they would be when the season started.
"We've been putting ourselves in good position to just finish (games),'' Marion said. "I think we've got to keep giving ourselves a chance.
"Our Achilles heel this year has been we've been having turnovers at the wrong time, but in particularly the last two games we didn't do that. We've just got to keep taking them little baby steps to get to where we want to get.''
-- Dwain Price
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