The Mavericks are set to take on the Lakers, Pacers and 76ers in their three exhibition games. Like NFL preseason, there’s not a whole lot to glean from teams holding back and simply trying to make it to the regular season in one piece. But in this unique scenario there’s conditioning, rotations and other things to keep an eye on. It’s been more than four months since the team last played competitive basketball, so we asked the staff what they’ll be watching for in the scrimmages.
Kirk: I’m going to be interested to see what sort of intensity these scrimmages are played with. On the one hand, no one wants to get hurt, on the other, these guys have been playing their teammates only for weeks now. That gets old. Though, I suspect these scrimmages will get old quickly as well because they don’t count for anything and no one wants to get hurt. Oh, and I really want to see how Luka’s left hand looks.
Ryan: I mentioned this in my piece on what fans should be looking for, but I’m most interested in seeing how the Mavericks adjust to a lack of front court depth. Whether that’s by using Dorian Finney-Smith at the 5, giving Maxi Kleber extended minutes, or whatever else Rick Carlisle comes up with. These scrimmages are truly insignificant outside of conditioning purposes, so if there’s a time we could see some interesting adjustments, it’s going to be during this three game stretch.
Doyle: I will be watching for Josh Reaves. He’s the best Josh the Mavericks have had since McRoberts. What he does during the scrimmages could determine whether he has a chance at breaking into a small rotation role when the eight seeding games begin.
Matt: I doubt we’re going to see much razzle dazzle from Rick in terms of play calling — save it for the games that count, you know what I mean? But that’s largely irrelevant, because just seeing this team shake off the rust will be interesting to watch. In particular, if any of the fringe rotation guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Justin Jackson, Josh Reaves seem like they can do anything at all, that’s good information to have.
Kevin: Lineups, baby, lineups! I want to see healthy bodies playing basketball with and against other healthy bodies. Let’s see what lineup appears to be the workhorse and also some Carlisle weirdness. Let’s get it.
Sam: I’m watching for good health, first and foremost. Every Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis fall will have me holding my breath, and the most important result of these scrimmages is the team staying healthy. But I also want to see how much rust the team carries after ‘training camp’. I will be watching to see how fluid they look offensively. How many easy buckets will they give up on defense, both in transition and in the half court? The Mavericks have eight games to avoid the Los Angeles Clippers, and that’s big opportunity.
Jordan: Outside of the novelty of watching basketball with my eyeballs, I’m curious what kind of experimenting Carlisle does in these games. He’s a master tinker, and it will be a major weapon for the Mavs in the playoffs.
Fingers crossed no one else gets hurt. Does KP have any rust? Is Luka finally fully healthy? And I’ll be looking for who can be the biggest surprise off the bench for the Mavs moving forward. I really believe they can move up in the standings, and it starts here.