Mavs can survive stretch without Dirk

DALLAS -- If you’re looking for a glimmer of hope, take a glance at the Mavericks’ early-season schedule.

Eight of their first 12 opponents were lottery teams last season. Their strength of schedule through Thanksgiving is the softest in the league, based on opponents’ win percentage last season (.403), according to numbers crunched by Twitter’s invaluable @mavstats.

There is hope that the Mavs can keep their heads above water while Dirk Nowitzki recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, which could sideline him for the first month of the regular season.

A look at the Mavs’ first-month schedule:

Oct. 30, at Los Angeles Lakers -- OK, it’s probably going to get pretty ugly on opening night against Kobe Bryant and his All-Star supporting cast.

Oct. 31, at Utah Jazz -- It’s the butt end of a back-to-back against a playoff team in one of the league’s toughest arenas for visitors. The easy part starts soon.

Nov. 3, vs. Charlotte Bobcats -- The Mavs will be welcomed home by the NBA’s worst team. Anyone worried about Brendan Haywood showing up the team that amnestied him? Didn’t think so.

Nov. 5, vs. Portland Trail Blazers -- A healthy LaMarcus Aldridge makes ex-Mavs assistant Terry Stotts’ Blazers dangerous.

Nov. 7, vs. Toronto Raptors -- Dwane Casey, another assistant on the Mavs’ title team, is starting year two of a tough rebuilding job with the Raptors.

Nov. 9, at New York Knicks -- Jason Kidd ditched Dallas for New York because he thought the Knicks had a much more talented roster.

Nov. 10, at Charlotte Bobcats -- Two meetings with the Bobcats in the first two weeks of the season? The schedule gods blessed the Mavs with that gift.

Nov. 12, vs. Minnesota Timberwolves -- The Mavs won’t get any sympathy from Minnesota, which will be missing its two best players, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.

Nov. 14, vs. Washington Wizards -- The Wizards won’t have John Wall, so this should be another win.

Nov. 16, at Indiana Pacers -- Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones will return to Indiana as decided underdogs.

Nov. 17, at Cleveland Cavaliers -- The Cavs were among the East’s worst last season, but they’re a young, athletic team that could be tough on the butt end of a back-to-back.

Nov. 19, vs. Golden State Warriors -- The Warriors are a popular pick to go from the lottery to the West playoffs.

Nov. 21, vs. New York Knicks -- How will Mavs fans welcome Kidd back to Dallas?

Nov. 24, at Los Angeles Lakers -- Well, the schedule gods didn’t do the Mavs much of a favor with the Lakers facing the Mavs twice in the first month.

Nov. 27, at Philadelphia 76ers -- The Sixers can present some problems if Andrew Bynum can stay healthy.

Nov. 28, at Chicago Bulls -- They won’t have Derrick Rose, but you can bet the Bulls will be one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.