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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks battle the Thunder

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The Mavericks travel to Tulsa to take on the Thunder as we get some semblance of Dallas basketball for the first time since April.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a trying summer, but at long last, Mavericks basketball is back, ready to tip exhibition play off in a highly anticipated season.

The basketball community got it’s first taste of the new-look Mavericks in Sunday’s open practice in which Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis looked as advertised albeit in an ... open practice. But optimism is brimming, and tonight is the first domino that needs to fall as the Mavericks begin their quest to return to the playoffs.

Dallas and Oklahoma City both have several new faces, so each game is crucial in getting each squad ready for regular season action. Here’s what to watch for in the Mavericks’ first preseason game.

The Luka Doncic/Kristaps Porzingis duo

Mavericks’ fans have waited since February to see Doncic and Porzingis take the floor together, so it’s safe to say this will be a widely viewed tune up game. In Sunday’s open practice the Slovenian and Latvian wasted no time getting acquainted on the hardwood foreshadowing what’s likely to come over and over again:

Individually, this will be Porzingis’ first live action since February of 2018. Gaining confidence and being decisive are much more important than raw stats in the early going, so we won’t put much stock in the box score as much as how he looks on the floor. As for Doncic, I’m watching to see what a summer of NBA conditioning does to his game. He’s reportedly shed weight which bodes well for the reigning rookie of the year as he looks to build off a historic campaign.

The three-point blitz

One of the main takeaways from media day was Rick Carlisle’s nod that the Mavericks could potentially fire more threes this year. That’s significant considering they ranked fourth in the entire league at 36.6 attempts per game last season. Unlike last season, Dallas is equipped to blitz team’s from deep with Porzingis and Seth Curry in the fold while also expecting some improvement from Doncic. Carlisle also noted that the midrange was not an effective area of the floor, which means Dallas is going to hoist triples and pressure teams at the rim.

BOBAN

We’d all be lying if we said Boban Marjanovich wasn’t one of the reasons we’re excited for basketball to be back. I’m not sure how much that has to do with basketball as last season was the only year he averaged more than 10 minutes per game. But if I see a standing dunk, I’m going to lose it and buy season tickets even if it costs me a fortune to drive from my home in Oklahoma City to Dallas 41 times.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN.