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First quarter roundtable: What are you looking forward to in the next 20 games?

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With just over a quarter of the season down, what are you most looking forward to in the next quarter of the season?

Sam: The first quarter of the season has defied my expectations, but it really does seem like the Mavericks have yet to hit their stride, so I’m looking forward to seeing if the Mavericks can somehow find that extra gear. I believe a huge part in that is Seth Curry returning to form. We’ve seen glimpses of it, like against the Pelicans, Raptors and Grizzlies, but it’s been apparent he’s still trying to find his way early in the season. However, if the Law of Averages serves true, Curry should kick his game up a notch. He’s currently shooting 38 percent from three, which is well below his career 43 percent mark. He’s also logged two consecutive games playing 27 minutes or more, which is much closer to the bar set in his fist stint with the Mavericks. Even with Curry sputtering a bit early on, the Mavericks have had one of the best offenses in the league. I can’t imagine what it will be like when he gets going.

Doyle: There’s a lot of flash surrounding the Mavericks and their offense. It’s all warranted. They have the highest offensive rating ever. That’s remarkable. But what I’ll be looking for during the next quarter is something Rick Carlisle is focusing on. I want to see if this team can improve defensively. They’re middle of the league right now. That’s fine. Their net rating allows for them to be mediocre on defense. Carlisle, though, has spoken about wanting the Mavs to be a top-10 defensive team. Dallas has shown bursts of defense, getting stops and steals, it just hasn’t been consistent. Finding some consistency will go a long way to giving credence to the thought that the team can make an extended playoff run.

Jordan: Getting the Mavericks to the halfway point of the season, I’m curious about sustainability — as a team, and from certain players. In their next 20 games it’s split about 50-50 on opponents with a winning record. That’s a bump up in competition from the first 21 games. Can the team sustain the production as they start facing teams multiple times? Can Luka sustain his production? How about Tim Hardaway Jr.? This team is outplaying expectations right now, and it’s been a blast. For them to be taken seriously on a national scale, they need to continue this when the competition gets stiffer.

Kevin: I think in the remainder of the first half of the season I’m looking forward to the emergence of another player. My hope is that it’s Delon Wright, but it could be Seth Curry or stronger showings from Jalen Brunson. Wright was brought in to be a big part of this team, and he’s had flashes that show what he can do. A strong defensive guard who can also facilitate and do a little scoring would be huge for this team moving forward.

Kirk: When talking to Matt Moore the other day, it dawned on me how cool it is that the Dallas bench has so many guys contributing. In a lot of situtations, it’s easy for guys to become tight and worry about playing time and role. What’s happening in Dallas is nothing like that, with a “next man up” attitude where different guys are helping in different ways nearly every game.

I can’t wait to see who else steps up and how as the bench and entire team continues to figure things out. It’s only 20 or so games in and these guys are all performing at such a high level already. It’s great to watch.