The Dallas Mavericks (1-2) will host the Charlotte Hornets (1-2) on Wednesday for their first home game of the 2020-2021 NBA season. The first three games of the season gave Mavericks fans much to think and talk about, with a close loss against the Phoenix Suns, a blowout loss to the Lakers, and a record-setting win against the Clippers on Sunday. The Mavericks look to establish some consistency and get the first winning streak of the season started.
It’s tough to take too much from Charlotte’s start to the season either. They fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder, teams not expected to make the playoffs, before defeating the contender Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
Josh Richardson, easily the 2nd most important (healthy) Maverick thus far, is currently listed as “questionable” for the game with a left calf strain. Kristaps Porzingis remains out as he works back from knee surgery.
Here are a few things we’ll be watching for as the two teams tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Central Time:
How will the “home-team” Mavericks look?
Last season, the Mavericks were one of the few teams to have a better record for away games than home games, going 20-12 away and only 19-15 at home. Not only is this by far the largest discrepancy in the league, but their away record was actually good for 6th best in the NBA. At certain times, it almost seemed as if the Mavericks wouldn’t show the same energy starting home games, which sometimes resulted in losses against inferior teams.
This season is unique in that fans will not be present in the arenas for the foreseeable future, so perhaps we should expect the Mavericks home and away records to be more even. Dallas doesn’t have any long home stretches until February, but this game might be a preview of how the Mavericks will defend the AAC in 2021.
Hit three’s like you’re playing the Clippers!
Technically, the Mavericks’ highest three-point percentage mark came in the Lakers game, as they shot 40.6% from distance. That the Mavericks still got blown out shows there’s more to basketball than hitting three’s.
Dallas is a three-point based offense, and when the team’s main perimeter options (Hardaway Jr., Richardson, Finney-Smith, Kleber, Burke, etc.) are hitting consistently, the Mavericks are nearly impossible to stop. In the Clippers match-up, those players were an even 12 of 24 from distance. If they can convert a similar percentage of three’s against the Hornets, especially with that volume, the Mavericks will be in a great position to win.
Luka Doncic is shooting a terrible 12.5% on 5.3 attempts a game this season, and his only two makes came in the Lakers game. He is very effective distributing and scoring in the paint, so it’ll be interesting to see how many attempts per game he chooses to take moving forward.
The Center position experiments will continue
One key difference between the Mavericks two losses and the Clippers win was starting center Dwight Powell’s effectiveness on the defensive end. Against scoring big men who pride themselves on their offense (DeAndre Ayton and Anthony Davis), Powell mightily struggled. When matched up with the slightly smaller Ibaka, who likes to play on the perimeter, Powell was better able to utilize his talents as a mobile and handsy help defender. When the Clippers subbed in Ivica Zubac for Ibaka, Coach Carlisle brought in Willie Cauley-Stein. The Hornet’s only real center, Bismack Biyombo, has characteristics of both archetypes: he’s relatively undersized at 6’ 8’’, but still lives in the paint and is an effective rebounder. Expect Carlisle to be flexible with his approach to containing Biyombo.
How to Watch
The game will tip off at 7:30pm Central Time, and can be watched on FSSW.