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Mavericks vs. Nets Preview: 3 things to watch for as Dallas hosts Brooklyn

The Mavericks host the Nets in their home opener.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a season-opening win on the road against the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks return home to host the Brooklyn Nets in their game at the AAC. It will be broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest at 7:30 pm. It’s always great to start the season with a win, especially one against much-hyped rookie Victor Wembanyama. Add in the fact that Dallas rookie Dereck Lively II played out of his mind, and well, the season is off to a rocking start.

The Mavericks get another break in the schedule, as the visiting Nets don’t look to be a fierce contender in the Eastern Conference this season. It’ll be fun to see former Mavs great Dorian Finney-Smith, and hopefully get the first home win of the year.

Here are three things to watch for during the game:

Can Dereck Lively do it again?

Lively made the Mavericks’ front office look really smart Wednesday against the Spurs. He was active defensively and a serious lob threat for Luka Doncic. San Antonio defenders had to keep their eyes on him the entire game, which opened up shots on the perimeter for Dallas. The Spurs had no answer for Lively, even with Wembanyama patrolling the paint (when he wasn’t in foul trouble).

Was it just a good matchup, or was it our first glance at Lively’s breakthrough? Probably a little of both. Lively will have his ups and downs all season. He’s very young and being thrust into a situation where his team expects to win. After Wednesday’s game, it looks like he might be up to the task.

Keep an eye on the bench

The Mavericks essentially played seven guys against the Spurs—Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Josh Green, Grant Williams, Lively, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Maxi Kleber. Derrick Jones Jr., Seth Curry, and Dante Exum saw the floor, but combined for only 24 minutes. Noticeably absent were Jaden Hardy, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and Richaun Holmes.

Hardy is dealing with an ankle injury, so that might have something to do with his playing time. But the low or zero minutes for everyone else is puzzling. Jason Kidd can’t play a whole season with a shortened playoff rotation. He has a tendency to experiment with the lineup early in the season, so it’s possible we’ll see several different rotations over the next month or so. The matchup against the Nets will offer another glimpse into Kidd’s plans this season.

Protect the glass

It’s early in the season, so stats are a bit wonky, but the Nets crashed the boards with a fervor in their season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They outrebounded the Cavaliers 50-38, including a 13-9 edge on the offensive glass. We’re all aware of the Mavericks’ rebounding issues last season. Hopefully the addition of Lively and Wlliams (and maybe Prosper?) will ease some of those issues. Oftentimes rebounding is about effort, so Dallas will need to put in the sweat equity to avoid giving up second-chance points to the Nets.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CST and can be seen on Bally Sports Southwest.