As we inch one day closer to meaningful NBA basketball, the Dallas Mavericks are set to face off against the Chicago Bulls in the team’s second preseason contest. After the Mavericks knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks in a game that some people might describe as “thrilling,” the team looks to start a streak and continue a summer of excellent team basketball.
The first exhibition surfaced many storylines to watch as the preseason unfolds. Here’s what to watch for tonight.
Back-up bigs fighting for playing time
Jonathan Motley, the undrafted rookie from Baylor, had a strong showing against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night. In only nine minutes, he was a plus-9, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds. Lacking elite athletic ability, Motley makes up for that with high energy and a 7’4 wingspan.
Motley slid in the draft after he had surgery on a torn meniscus, but through summer league and one preseason game, he’s shown he belongs with the 2017 draft class. His biggest strength might be his motor, so look for him to continue rebound and earn second chance points
Albeit one game through preseason, Dwight Powell looked like an improved player on Monday night. He scored nine points (on 47 percent shooting), including a three from the corner, and tallied three rebounds. Powell can always be a threat when playing with J.J. Barea and Devin Harris because of his pick-and-roll abilities, so it’s good to see him make plays when he’s on the floor with one of those two.
Powell developing a jump shot would be a major wrinkle to the athletic, 26-year-old’s game. Let’s see if he can build off a strong shooting performance, and possibly get more comfortable in pick-and-pop situations.
Dennis Smith Jr. will continue to acclimate
The anticipated debut of Dennis Smith Jr. left much to be desired, and that’s okay. Defenses the rookie is seeing now are significantly different than what he saw in Summer League. Now that he has one game under his belt, look for Smith Jr. to gain a much better feel of what’s being asked of him each night.
While a strong shooting performance would be great, look for him to step into his shot with confidence and little hesitation, as that is more important right now. As he continues to get his feet under him and receive more NBA defensive attention, the process might be more important than the result for the 19-year-old rookie.
Dorian Finney-Smith needs to seize opportunity
There’s a hot, new game out called Where in the World is Dorian Finney-Smith. All jokes aside, it’s entirely too early to panic on the second-year forward, but after a troublesome Summer League, Finney-Smith has to show improvement early this season.
The back-up small forward had a relatively lackluster showing in 18 minutes against the Bucks, so a better game is of the utmost importance for Finney-Smith. He’ll have every opportunity tonight to showcase his game against a Bulls team lacking wing talent. It will also be interesting if Finney-Smith can display his versatility if given the opportunity to guard a multiple positions from Kris Dunn to Lauri Markkanen. Either way, look to see if Finny-Smith can bounce back from an uninspiring preseason opener.
How to watch
Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. Central. You can watch on FSSW Plus or NBA League Pass.