In the Mavs' dress rehearsal, they kept pace early but were ultimately outmatched by a Pacers team that looks ready to go for the season that opens in just a few days.
The Mavs came out gunning in the first quarter with a starting five of Dirk, Marion, Dalembert, Ellis and Calderon - the same starting five they anticipate rolling out to start the season this Wednesday. Dirk and Ellis both got good looks early, and despite recent reports of Monta thinking he was "passing too much" his first offensive play was an assist to Dirk.
Carter was subbed in for Dirk a little earlier than he has been this preseason, as Carlisle tries to get his minutes up just a little to get ready for the season. Marion slid over to the 4, as has been par for the course with him being Dirk's primary backup. The Mavs certainly showed some good fight and had a fast start in the first, especially on the offensive boards, but the Pacers went on an 11-1 run and ended the quarter with a seven point lead.
The second quarter saw the Mavs again trying to push the pace against an Indy team used to playing a little slower, with a 7-1 run to start the quarter. Wayne Ellington, one of the pleasant surprises of the preseason, continued to impress, and Bernard James got some earlier burn than we've seen in past preseason games. The Mavs' defense more than held their own against a big Pacers team, as the teams traded leads throughout the quarter and the Mavs had some nice offensive finds that just didn't convert. Some fun highlight type plays with Vince on back to back treys, Calderon and Matrix working the pick and roll to great effect at one point, and a really nice shot by Trix in transition towards the end of the quarter.
At the half, the score was 39-41 Pacers, and halftime stats reflected a pretty even game with the Pacers winning on turnovers (9 to the Mavs' 13) but the Mavs with a higher field goal percentage (39% to 32%) and rebounding advantage.
The third quarter became a game of runs with Dallas starting 10-0 on some great passing for good finds, and good free throw shooting. But Indy was having none of that, and went on their own 13-0 run, with an accumulation of 17 turnovers at that point really hurting the good guys. DeJuan Blair and Marion got the Mavs back on track for a brief second, but ultimately the Mavs couldn't capitalize on some good looks and had no answer for David West. Indiana's 32 point third quarter had them solidly up.
The end of the third and the fourth became the Paul George Show, and the Mavs got incredibly sloppy on offense. Dirk sat with about 9 minutes left (4-12, 14 points) and even pulling Mekel in favor of Calderon did no good. But the Pacers really had the Mavs' number in the fourth. Carlisle burned his last timeout with 5:28 left and put in the "white flag" lineup.
No combination of Mavs had an answer at the end of the night for Paul George, David West, and the Pacers. The Mavs ultimately looked good early, pushing the pace against a slower Indy team in the first half. But the second half saw far too many turnovers, sloppy overall play, and not converting on far too many good open looks.
As a preseason dress rehearsal goes, this clearly wasn't ideal for the Mavs. Nothing counts yet, but we have certainly seen much better from this Mavs team this preseason. Dirk and Ellis having off nights hurt on shooting numbers, though rebounding was better than it has been. But the Pacers looked like a team on a mission.
The next game is for keeps. Let's hope they shake this off before tip-off against the Hawks on Wednesday.