It’s only the preseason.
No need to panic, no need to call for heads to roll or lineups to change.
No need to start proclaiming that the season is a bust.
It’s only the preseason.
We can, however, look at some things that worked, and some things that didn’t. There were certainly positives in this game, despite the loss. Let’s start with those and work our way down to things that need adjusting before Thursday’s game.
Jason Terry came out on fire. He may have been absent in the post-season, but he’s apparently decided that he’s got a clean slate and he’s playing like it. He was stealing the ball left and right, hitting threes and making all of his free throws. Terry mentioned that he planned on mentoring the young Beaubois, and if he keeps up this level of intensity he’ll make a fine teacher.
Dominique Jones did what he was supposed to do. He drove to the basket and made some big plays in the paint. He’s apparently been working on his jump shot, and it was his jumper that brought the Mavericks’ 3rd string into a tie in the last minute of the game. 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists isn’t half bad for a rookie playing just 21 minutes in his debut.
The big boys looked tough. Ian Mahinmi shot a perfect 4 for 4 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line. Tyson Chandler threw down a couple of thunderous dunks, mostly off of alley-oops. He also had 2 monster blocks that drew cheers from the crowd. Brendan Haywood started solidly for the Mavericks with 7 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes. They all had a little trouble with John Wall, but so did everyone else.
Caron Butler had an interesting game: his +/- was the worst for the Mavericks at -19, but he was the force that got them started. He only played for 20 minutes, so it’s hard to say just what his contributions will be. Dirk, oh Dirk. Nowitzki started pretty badly, but fell into his jump shooting rhythm a bit more in the 2nd. In just 25 minutes of play, he scored 11 points on 5-9 shooting, and pulled in a solid 5 defensive rebounds. Shawn Marion was quiet with just 7 points, but he did play some pesky defense to start the game.
Jason Kidd looked a little old trying to play against the superfast Wall, but he wasn’t terrible. 7 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes was respectable, and a lot of those rebounds and assists looked pretty flashy. JJ Barea played more than most of us would like, but he lobbed a few passes at the rim for Chandler, which made for some fun highlight reel plays. He didn’t however, make a single basket, and looked like his usual defensive liability. Which brings me to my next point: somehow, the Mavericks have to figure out how to deal with fast point guards. They always seem to look half a step behind, and are forced to make dumb fouls. With someone as talented as a John Wall or a Chris Paul, those shots are going to go in.
As I said, this is just the beginning. It was nice to see that our men didn’t buckle under pressure, and even after being down by as many as 17 points several times, they fought their way back into it until the bitter end. Had Lester Hudson not hit the game-winning 3 for the Wizards, there would have been extra time played, and who knows how it would have ended. For now, we’ll take what we saw in this game (slow defense, excessive jump shooting, the usual) and hope that these kinks get discussed in the next two days. The Mavericks face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday at 7:30 CT/8:30 ET.