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Should the Mavericks be worried after a 101-75 loss to the Nuggets finishes a horrible preseason?

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Here are 3 things we learned from the Mavericks’ preseason finale, which wasn’t great.

NBA: Preseason-Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell to 2-5 in preseason on Friday, losing to the Denver Nuggets 101-75. It completed what was a horrendous effort from the team during the seven exhibition games, begging a huge question: should we be worried?

It wasn’t that the team lost five times, of course. Preseason is meaningless when it comes to win-loss records and stuff like that. The problems mostly lies with the starting five, with was miserable in the final three games they played together — all three losses, coincidentally.

We’ll get back to the starters. Let’s wrap up Friday’s game, first. There were really no bright spots — the team shot 38 percent from the field and only hit five threes, all while letting Denver shoot about 50 percent. It’s preseason, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but that’s obviously not great.

The starting unit has been [insert trash emoji here]

The full starting five only played together for the final three games. In those three games, they were awful. Rick Carlisle mercifully played the starting five in hockey shifts for most of those games, which allows us to easily check plus-minus for each game. That, not the losses, in the truly concerning part.

Against the Suns, the Mavericks’ starters were all minus-6. Against the Rockets on Wednesday, they were all minus-12 in 25 minutes, except for Harrison Barnes, who played two extra minutes and somehow got outscored by nine for a minus-21. In this game on Friday, the starting five was as bad as they’ve been: they didn’t play all their minutes together, but they were all at least a minus-20. Barnes was worst, with a minus-29 in 26 minutes.

They’re running out of time to figure it out.

Harrison Barnes was better, barely

His plus-minus was worse, but Barnes himself had a half-decent preseason game after a dreadful preseason in general. He still missed both of his three-pointers — he’s 3-of-18 through the seven games — but he pushed his field goal shooting up just a touch with a 4-of-9 night. Eight points on nine shots, three rebounds and no assists in 26 minutes for Barnes, based on how he had been playing, is honestly an improvement.

Even while having a better game, Barnes’ concerns showed up. He was 3-of-5 in the first half, and both misses were layups that got blocked at the rim. This is a real problem for the forward, who’s clearly athletic but still struggles to separate from defenders either driving to the rim or finishing once he’s there. You saw that on Friday.

Still, we had a long conversation about him just a couple days ago, and the general sentiment is clear: it’s waaaay too early to seriously panic about the guy. What’s that going to help, anyway?

Yo Tim, you never answered that question you posed at the very start of this article, you jerk. Should we be worried?

I am slightly concerned that this bolded text now seems to be talking at me. I’m fairly certain words on a web page should not be sentient and speaking, but I guess we can’t be sure of anything after the internet attacks today.

Anyway, yes and no. On one hand, it’s preseason, none of the old veterans are taking defense seriously, and they’re also not playing their usual minutes load. Maybe they just can’t get a rhythm playing early like they have been. The Mavericks weren’t exactly a first quarter team last year.

On the other hand, there are reasonable concerns about how the parts fit together. The defense seems OK, and it should be a little bit better come regular season. But the offense looks completely lifeless, which makes sense, seeing how none of the five can seriously create off the dribble. The team made it work last year with a gimpy Parsons as the only real shot creator in the starting five, it’s true — but they also started Raymond Felton a lot of the year in his place, and it really shouldn’t be a surprise that some of their success came directly from using him like they did.

Anyway, the regular season will be here next week. You can panic if you’d like. You might as well wait until the games actually mean something, and gauge whether you should be worried based on wins and losses that actually count, though. Let’s just be glad there’s no more preseason to worry about.