Schedule breakdown: April bounce or bounced?

With the NBA's release of the 30 team schedules last Thursday, we'll periodically examine a portion of the Dallas Mavericks' 82 games. Last week we selected five games to circle.

If these new mysterious Dallas Mavericks are going to be jockeying for playoff position, perhaps even clawing for a playoff spot until the very end, then April stands to be a make-or-break month.

The Mavs play their final nine games in April all against Western Conference foes -- seven teams in all and as many as six that could be battling for playoff position.

The month starts with a lockout-style four road games in six nights starting on April 2 at the Los Angeles Lakers. Then comes a back-to-back at the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings (April 4-5), a team that might not be ready to challenge for a playoff spot, but should continue to improve. The road trip ends two nights later on April 7 at the Portland Trail Blazers.

The final five games of the season include four at home starting with the re-made Phoenix Suns on April 10. The Nuggets are then in town on April 12. A road-home back-to-back ensues at the New Orleans Hornets and then against the Memphis Grizzlies (April 14-15). The Hornets end the regular season at the American Airlines Center on April 17.

All-in-all, the Mavs' final month includes nine games in 16 days.

The last couple of seasons that would have meant figuring out times to rest Jason Kidd. That won't be an issue this season with a pair of 24-year-olds, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo manning the backcourt. Taking care of business will be the prime objective. Against the West last season, Dallas was 26-22 and 13-10 against next April's foes. The latter recorded was highlighted by a 3-1 mark against the Suns and Nuggets and lowlighted by 0-3 against the Lakers and 1-2 against Memphis, Mayo's former club.