Route 66: Road weary

The NBA promised every team will play at least one set of back-to-back-to-backs and up to three. The defending champions caught a break of sorts with just one coming on March 8-9-10.

Now, the Dallas Mavericks can be thankful they don't have two or three of these leg-killing beasts, but it's not like the league did the Mavs any favors with the placement of their three in a row.

They come at the tail end of a brutal stretch in which Dallas will play seven games in nine nights, including five on the road. The first four games are two sets of back-to-backs with a travel day in between.

The Mavs begin the stretch on March 2 at New Orleans then play Utah at home the next night. They'll make the quick trip to Oklahoma City for a game on the 5th, then come back home to face the Knicks on the 6th. Such a scenario of four games in five nights is not uncommon during an 82-game schedule, but never is one of those faced with one of these:

* March 8: at Phoenix

* March 9: at Sacramento

* March 10: at Golden State

And it's not like the elder Mavs will catch a break by playing a couple slow-it-down teams. All three play at a high pace, and particularly for the Suns and then the Warriors to wrap up the chaotic week.

There surely will be some tired bones on the overnight charter flight back from Oakland.

Here's a breakdown of the rest of the 33-game road schedule:

* Dallas has the benefit of playing 20 of its first 36 games at home, but that means March and April will be difficult travel months. The Mavs play 30 games in the final two months with 17 on the road. Ten of 17 games in March are on the road and seven of 13 in April are away.

* Seven of the Mavs' 20 double-doubles will see both games played on the road with just two double-doubles with both games at home. The remaining nine will be split at home and away.

* From March 23 - April 26 (the end of the regular season), Dallas will play five of six double-doubles on the road including a pair in late March at San Antonio then Houston, followed by at Miami and Orlando.

* At least six double-doubles feature exceedingly difficult games on the second night. On Jan. 2, the Mavs play at home against Oklahoma City after playing at Minnesota; on Jan. 11 they play at Boston following a game at Detroit; they're at home against Boston on Feb. 20 after flying back from New York; on Jan. 11 they play at Memphis the night after playing New Jersey at home; they face a long flight to New York for a game on March 6 after playing at Oklahoma City; and they finish the sprint of a season at Atlanta on April 26 after playing at Memphis.