The Dallas Mavericks don’t play many games in the national spotlight this season, but this is their second one in the span of eight days. There’s a reason for that, of course. After wallowing in the NBA’s basement last season, both the Mavs and Atlanta Hawks were rewarded with high lottery picks in the draft. Then, during the draft, the teams made a trade that links the franchises together for the foreseeable future.
You know the results. Dallas ended up with Luka Doncic while Atlanta landed Trae Young and potentially the Mavs’ first round draft pick next season. With two top-five picks going head-to-head, it’s no wonder this game gets an undercard slot on ESPN. Now, let’s take a look at what might unfold tonight.
Trae Young can score, y’all
After three games, Young is averaging 23 points per game, buoyed by his recent 35-point scoring outburst against the Cleveland Cavaliers. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. However, the majority of his shots are coming from beyond the three-point arc. Young takes over nine attempts from three per game and connects on 39.3 percent of them.
He’s more than just a shooter, though. Young is also a facilitator and is averaging 8.3 assists. It helps that he has effective shooters like Taurean Waller-Prince, Kent Bazemore, and our old friend Vince Carter knocking down shots.
Scoring is up league-wide and a big reason why is because of all the threes that teams are letting fly. Atlanta and Dallas, like pretty much everyone else, have fully embraced the strategy. Both teams are in the top-10 in three-point attempts this season: the Mavs rank fourth with 130 and the Hawks come in ninth with 113. Needless to say, viewers can expect a lot of shots from deep in this one.
Where the teams differ, though, is in how many they make. Atlanta finds the good side of the nylon on 40.7 percent of their threes. Meanwhile, Dallas is only making theirs at a clip of 32.3 percent. This number could be what potentially swings the game one way or the other.
Pace of play and rebounding
The Hawks are one of the fastest teams in the league, averaging over 108 possessions per game. On the flip side, the Mavericks are one of the slowest teams with just over 100. Both those marks blow previous league averages out of the water. With Atlanta wanting to get out and run, Dallas needs to do all it can to limit scoring opportunities in transition.
Something that should help the Mavs is their propensity for offensive rebounding. So far, they are one of the best in the league. A lot of this has to do with the addition of DeAndre Jordan. He’s averaging 4.7 offensive boards. But it’s also a team effort. Dorian Finney-Smith is grabbing two per game and Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Luka Doncic, and Wesley Matthews are all averaging at least one. That concerted effort is something we haven’t seen from a Mavericks team in a long time, if ever.
This game has all the makings of a shootout, so buckle up. Also, don’t be mad if Trae Young turns out to be a good player. There’s enough room in the world for both him and Doncic to be good at basketball. Dallas got their guy and are better for it. Just sit back and enjoy.
How to watch
6:00 p.m. Central on ESPN and FSSW