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3 things we learned after the Mavericks fall to the Hawks 117-111

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The Dallas defense couldn’t get a stop when it mattered as the Mavs fall to 0-1 on the season.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is back and in an entertaining way. Two bad basketball teams went blow for blow down the stretch, which is all you can really ask for on opening night. To be honest, it’s impressive Dallas was able to keep it close as the Hawks shot a blistering percentage all night.

Each team had their share of runs as the Hawks stretched the lead in the second quarter. Dallas responded in the third quarter and kept it close the majority of the way. But the fourth quarter was the Dennis Schroder show and Dallas didn’t have an answer. Dallas took the lead a few times in the fourth quarter, but poor rebounding and turnovers ultimately sealed the Mavericks fate.

There was some bad and some good tonight, so here are a few initial takeaways.

Dennis Smith Jr. is going to be good

What a debut for the ninth overall pick. From the first play of the game Smith Jr.’s imprint was all over the game. His athleticism as well as his passing abilities were on full display. Smith Jr. easily should have had 15 assists in his first game if his teammates hadn’t shot so poorly for the majority of the game. Smith Jr. had some hiccups down the stretch, but there’s not much more fans would have liked to see from the rookie point guard.

Nerlens Noel starts his “prove it year” in a big way

Noel caused problems on both ends of the floor every minute he was on the court. He blocked shots, grabbed rebounds on both ends and was a highly efficient scorer. It was the exact performance the Mavs envision for Noel. What’s even more telling is the Mavericks defense collapsed down the stretch with Noel on the bench. In eight fourth-quarter minutes he was off the floor, the Mavericks gave up four offensive rebounds. His presence on and off the court was dramatically felt.

Dallas’ defense was not good

The Atlanta Hawks are a bad team and the Mavericks couldn’t do anything well against them defensively. The Mavs struggled to protect the paint (other than Noel), gave up a crucial offensive rebound, and allowed the Hawks to shoot the ball extremely well. Dallas particularly struggled with Dirk at center, which isn’t surprising, and with the Big German and Barnes struggling offensively, Dallas just didn’t quite have enough to get over the hump and dig themselves out of the continual holes they got themselves in.

Check back for more details later tonight.