While the exhibition games were just tune ups to help players ease into game shape, the scrimmages were like an oasis in the desert for all of us thirsty for basketball. Not much should be taken away long term, but some of us on staff wrote a little on what stuck out to us.
With the three scrimmages in the books, what did you learn about the Mavericks heading into the 8 seeding games?
Kirk: I learned that Rick Carlisle was willing to show absolutely nothing of value in those games. It was mainly about the players getting a feel for the pace and rhythm of the game with the cameras, lights, and actual referees in the building. Dallas ran no offense, nothing that could really be considered scoutable and the defense looked a mess, but that was to be expected. I also learned I’m ready for basketball to be bad. I had dreaded the grind but we’ve had such good work here on the site the last month that I’m excited for what comes next.
Sam: I learned that the Mavericks’ bench could very well be a weak spot going into the playoffs. Carlisle’s rotations will be different; he won’t hockey sub five players in at a time. But the bench lacks a tremendous amount of scoring punch with Seth Curry inserted into the starting lineup. J.J. Barea might turn back the clock twice in a seven game series, but I have no reason to believe Delon Wright and Justin Jackson will look any better than they have. Staggering substitutions and shortening rotations will certainly help, but staying afloat while Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis rest will be a significant task come playoff time.
Ryan: These three scrimmages taught me that I am a massive Antonius Cleveland fan. Due to time constraints, I am not someone who gets to catch very many Texas Legends games. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when it was announced Cleveland would travel with the team to the bubble, but wow, did he show up or what!? His offense offered a reliable bucket when the Mavericks stalled and his defense was incredibly tenacious. I’m not sure how big of a role he’ll get come the (actual) restart, but if the Mavs are looking for someone to give the bench unit a very much needed boost, Cleveland looks like a great option.
Jordan: I don’t think I was prepared for how large a gap there would be in level of play between the starters and bench. That’s worrisome, as depth has been such a strength for the Mavericks this season. The bench can still come along, and the rotations will shrink the longer this goes on. But it was a little concerning.
Conversely I felt whiplash by how in sync the starters seemed for stretches of these games. In many ways the scrimmages were a free for all, with little structure. And that’s okay, it’s what it was supposed to be. But the starters were playing with a rhythm that I didn’t expect, and got me pretty excited. Also, I’m ready for Antonius Cleveland to get run in real games.