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Bet on the NBAAfter competing with the Los Angeles Lakers all season for the second position in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks slipped a little bit down the stretch.

They enter the playoffs as the third seed, but tied regular season records with Los Angeles. But since LA wins the tie-breaker, they get the second seed while the Mavericks get the third.

But third place in the West is not a bad place to be in for the Mavs, who have held their own all season both at home and on the road. They have by far the best road record in the West, going 28-13 on the year. Only the Lakers can compete with that, while the San Antonio Spurs are tied with the No. 4 seed Thunder at 25-16 away from home.

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So look for Dallas to dominate games away from home. The home-court advantage enjoyed by any playoff contender in a series against the Mavericks means almost nothing. Teams will have to beat them in Dallas, where the Mavs have a surprisingly weak 29-12 win-loss record. The other top five teams in the West all have at least 30 wins on their home courts.

The Mavericks open the first round of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers in what could turn out to be a close series. Both teams feature a strong starting lineup, but become more questionable the further into the bench you look. Dallas has the slight edge here and should come out on top of the series, but look for this one going to a Game 6 or 7 before it gets wrapped up.

In fact, winning the series at Game 5 or 6 will be a reflection of just how well the Mavericks can play on the road. All year, they have been strongest when outside of Dallas. If they were only better able to defend their home court, they could have ended the year with one of the top two records in the league. The Mavericks also rank in the top 10 in the NBA in both points scored and points allowed per possession.

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