Mavericks played their second preseason game, a convincing 128-112 win against the Milwaukee Bucks, and the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
We shouldn’t overreact to preseason games, however, there were some really positive things happening in the game which could be important for the Mavericks long term.
Let’s dive into 3 key numbers and what they mean going into the season:
The offense was clicking: Dallas made 22 threes on 46 shots
One of the key questions coming into the season is, how will the offense look. By now everybody knows that the offseason goal was to improve the defense. That is why Dallas traded Seth Curry for Josh Richardson. However, we should keep an eye on what kind of effect this will this move have on what was the best offense in the NBA last season. Seth Curry was an elite shooter and the Mavericks will miss Kristaps Porzingis when the season starts.
In this game the offense looked great and was clicking. There are two numbers you should look at first if you want a quick indicator of how well the Dallas offense performed:
- Dallas shot distribution and the amount of three-point shots: in this game, Dallas shot 46 three-point shots out of 95 total field goals, or 48% of all shots. Last year Dallas was second in the league (behind Houston) when it comes to three-point shot frequency. 42.4% of Maverick shots last season were threes. When Mavericks offense is clicking it generates a ton of good, open looks from downtown, and this was certainly the case in this game.
- Dallas three-point accuracy: The first goal of Rick Carlisle’s offense is to generate open threes, the second part is to actually make them. In this game, they certainly did, as the Mavericks made 22 out of 46 three-point field goals or 47%.
When Mavericks shoot a lot of threes (>40% of all shots) and make a lot of threes, they usually win. Giannis acknowledged the same thing when talking to Bucks reporters in his post-game interview:
If you come into the game and [they] make 22 threes, it’s pretty good chance you’ll lose the game.
Don’t forget, this happened against a great defensive team as Milwaukee had the best defensive net rating (as per basketball reference) in the NBA last season. Mavericks offense clicking early in the preseason is definitely an encouraging sign.
Josh Richardson hot shooting: 4/5 from 3, 7/10 overall
The key new addition to Dallas starting lineup in the offseason was Josh Richardson. He is certainly an upgrade over Curry on defense, but the question remains can he replace his offense as well as he shot just 34.1% from three last season in Philadelphia (compared to Curry who shot an incredible 45.2%). We did an extensive analysis of why we believe Richardson will be a much more efficient player in Dallas, and this game certainly showed encouraging signs of that. In the first two games of the offseason, Richardson looks very comfortable shooting the ball. He is getting plenty of open looks and he is making the most of them. Richardson's stat line for the night was 23 points (on only 7 shots and 70% FG) and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
Luka’s shooting from 3 and the free-throw line: 3/8 on 3s, 6/10 on FTs
In his preseason media availability sessions, Dončić told us shooting was one of the key areas he focused on in the offseason. In this game, Luka shot 3/8 from beyond the three-point line. The good news is Dončić had the same 3/8 from 3 stat line in his first preseason game on Saturday, which puts him at 37.5% form 3 in the preseason. If there is one area of his game where Luka can improve, it’s certainly his shooting. Last year he shot just 31.6% from three, so this is an area we will definitely keep monitoring.
Now the bad news. His three-point shot definitely looks better in the preseason, however, he struggled at the free-throw line, making just 6 out of 10 on his free throw attempts, or 60%. His floaters were also way off early in the game, however, he improved his finishing around the rim as the game progressed.