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Mavericks vs. Real Madrid Preview: 3 things to watch as the Mavericks take on Luka’s former team

Dallas looks for its first preseason win

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks continue their international tour of the preseason, heading to Madrid, Spain to take on Luka Doncic’s former Club Real Madrid Tuesday afternoon.

This is the third international preseason game for the Mavericks, playing their previous two in Abu Dhabi against the Timberwolves. The Mavericks lost both of those games, so they’ll be looking for the first preseason win Tuesday in Madrid.

While preseason records don’t really matter, historically teams that have gone winless in the preseason have had struggling regular seasons, so it’s important for the Mavericks to pick up a win in their remaining two games. Thankfully for Dallas, playing a non-NBA team will help with this tremendously, although Real Madrid is one of the best clubs in Europe.

Here are three things to watch for.

Will the rookies keep starting?

Coach Jason Kidd followed through on his promise before training camp started of starting both Dereck Lively and Olivier-Maxence Prosper in the initial preseason games. Prosper and Lively started the Mavericks first two games against the Wolves and as always with rookies, there was some good and some bad.

Expectedly, Lively has run into some foul trouble and still needs some work on screen setting, but has shown off some good bounce, solid help defense, and finished a few pick and rolls with Luka Doncic. Prosper has had a bit rougher go in the preseason — the typical rookie mistakes on the defensive end haven’t been offset by anything else, as Prosper has struggled with his shot and positioning. None of these are red flags of course, it takes rookies time to get their feet wet in the NBA, especially for players selected outside of the top-10.

For now it’ll be interesting to see if Kidd continues with this plan or if he wants to give another lineup a look. While Kidd was very clear about starting Lively and Prosper in the preseason, he did not commit to either of them starting day one of the regular season later this month. Presumably those two spots are still up for grabs, so Kidd’s lineup choices could be a sneak preview at what will happen when the real games start.

Two-way contract battle

Right now Mike Miles Jr. and AJ Lawson have two of the Mavericks three two-way spots. For the last spot, Dexter Dennis, Joe Wieskamp, Greg Brown III, and Jordan Walker have all competed so far.

If I had to give me own personal front-runner after two games, it’d be Dennis. He’s shot the ball well and his form looks solid, while also be a jump-out-of-the-gym wing with decent size at 6’5. While two-way players usually aren’t big time regular season guys, the fact that the Mavericks already have a lot of guards and Miles is already taking up one of the spots, perhaps gives Dennis an edge.

Walker has been fun in the preseason so far, and the Mavericks clearly like him since they gave him a contract shortly after the NBA Draft ended. Wieskamp and Brown haven’t done too much, but we’ll see if they’ll get more opportunities before the preseason ends.

Can the Mavericks make some shots?

Weirdly enough, the Mavericks shot exactly 14-of-46 from three in both games against the Timberwolves, so the Mavericks are shooting a ghastly 30.4 percent from three in the preseason so far.

While no one should expect the Mavericks to roll out and complex or interesting offensive sets during the preseason, it would go a long way toward getting a win and getting things back on track if the team could just make some shots. The starters in particular have been struggling with shooting, with newly acquired Grant Williams shooting 4-of-14 from three in the preseason.

The Mavericks are due for some good shooting. Hopefully it happens soon.

How to watch

Tipoff will be at 1:45 p.m. CST, and locally fans will be able to watch on Bally Sports Southwest. FYI: unlike the previous two games, this one will not be streamed on mavs.com, so plan accordingly.