The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a season-opening win against the Washington Wizards in which Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 57 points, and the Mavericks mostly dominated up until the last half of the fourth quarter.
All things considered it was a fine performance, but Dallas faces a stiff test against the up-and-coming Pelicans, even without Zion Williamson. After a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans boast young talent like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart while also acquiring J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors in the offseason.
The Pelicans took the defending champion Toronto Raptors to overtime on opening night meaning Dallas should have it’s hands full with the Jrue Holiday-led Pelicans.
Here’s what to watch for when the Mavericks try to start 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Can Delon Wright make his mark?
After a mostly quiet preseason, Wright appears to have still not found his footing in the Mavericks’ offense. Against the Wizards Wright played 21 minutes and scored five points, collected four rebounds and handed out three assists. He looked well on his way to a productive outing in the first quarter when he got to the free throw line attacking the hoop and hit a transition three early in the frame. But Wright was mostly forgettable save for some defensive plays later in the game.
Wright was arguably the Mavericks’ biggest offseason acquisition, so it’s been somewhat disappointing to see him mostly float throughout the game without making a significant imprint. His role is crucial in being a secondary initiator capable of spelling Doncic from time to time as well as checking the oppositions’ best perimeter defender. He’ll have a tough challenge against the Pelicans’ litany of playmakers, but he’ll have to find his way fast as the competition gets tougher.
Seth Curry’s playing time
What figures to be the loudest cry from Twitter-verse is Curry’s playing time, particularly with Doncic and Porzingis. Wednesday, the former Trail Blazer played 20 minutes and scored nine points on 50 percent shooting. He showed his range while also connecting on a couple of buttery floaters that kissed the glass before falling home.
Rick Carlisle revealed post game that Curry was nursing some minor injuries, and his status for the game was up in the air, so that largely explains the low number of minutes. But the combo guard is far and away the Mavericks best shooter, and playing next to Doncic could take the Mavericks’ offense to another level.
Matching up with the Pelicans
New Orleans has a crew of ball handlers of all sizes, and against the Raptors, chose to play Favors 21 minutes and Jahlil Okafor only 12. If the Mavericks choose to start both Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, one of those two will have to guard down, potentially posing a mismatch for the Pelicans. Even more, the Mavericks will have to be disciplined in transition as Lonzo Ball excels in the open floor and will be flanked by the sharp-shooting Redick and rangy Ingram. And with Holiday running the show, the Pelicans will pose a tough matchup for just about any team this season.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN or NBA League Pass.