The Dallas Mavericks kicked off their preseason on the road over the weekend, taking down Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks 112-102. With a tight schedule this season the Mavericks stay put in Milwaukee for a round two.
Coaches are tasked with an interesting challenge in a crunched timeframe to get a sense of rotations and schemes with a couple of games and training camp. Rick Carlisle will have plenty to dissect facing a stout Bucks squad.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for from all three levels of the roster tonight:
Finding early rhythm
The Mavericks were slow out of the gate Saturday night, which the starting group of Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell played a large portion. Looking flat-footed and without a rhythm, the Mavericks were a cold 6-of-28 from the field and 2-of-11 from three — though it being preseason, still only found themselves down two at the end of the first frame.
By the end of the game the Mavericks were a stout 17-of-43 from deep, finding a rhythm in the second half sparked by the bench unit of Jalen Brunson, Trey Burke, Josh Green, James Johnson, and Maxi Kleber. It remains to be seen whether Carlisle will run out the same lineups, or if all players will be available for that matter. But if the starters return, it would be nice to see them find a rhythm earlier in the game since they likely won’t see the floor for long.
The bench doesn’t need warming
This season will likely be a before K.P. and an after K.P., as Kristaps Porzingis works his way back from injury. Assuming health (please god let their be health), lineups will likely have to shift with Powell possibly returning to the bench while shuffling other pieces.
This is to say, the second unit of undersized power duo Brunson and Burke, the active rookie Green, the veteran presence of Johnson, and athleticism of Kleber may not stay intact for long. But golly gee was that group fun in their first game together. In moments they looked as if they hadn’t all just met last week, and had some defensive feistiness.
If Brunson and Burke can find chemistry together (combined for 19 points and six assists), they provide an interesting complimentary offensive attack. Though size may prove an issue at some point, Carlisle leverages these dual-point guard schemes well and this already looks to be the case here. Hopefully this five man group sees continued time together.
Promise from the end
All 18 active players on the Mavericks roster saw time Saturday night, and there were bright moments from many that likely find themselves on the fringes of the rotation. Willie Cauley-Stein was part of a great third quarter burst, Wes Iwundu showed off his length and ball handling, and rookie Tyler Bey arms might go sideline to sideline.
The story from #MAVSTWITTER was the play of Nate Hinton, who in moments looked like a rotation player rather than a Two-way Contract trying to work for his job. The reputation that preceded him was right on target, highlighting his activity and hustle.
If Carlisle opts to give the end of the bench more run look if Hinton, as well as rookie Tyrell Terry, can build momentum off his first NBA action. Finding that kind of rhythm can do wonders for young players looking to impress coach.
Where to Watch
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. CT, and can be watched on FSSW...so, if you stream, know what your options are.