In the span of two games, the Mavericks have exposed themselves. Young, with some talent. Old, with some injuries. Edgy and gritty. Except when they're not. In other words, very inconsistent in the frightfully small sample size that is two NBA games.and more »
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Well, that didn't take long.
In the span of two games, the Mavericks have exposed themselves. Young, with some talent. Old, with some injuries.
Edgy and gritty. Except when they're not.
In other words, very inconsistent in the frightfully small sample size that is two NBA games.
We've seen the good in the home-opening 140-136 win over Minnesota and the bad in the 121-100 loss at Phoenix.
What Mavs rookie Luka Doncic showcased on a night where the American Airlines Center felt like 'the old days'
If this is what we have to look forward to for the next 80 games, it's going to be choppier than any ride you've had at 38,000 feet.
Coach Rick Carlisle has said it's up to the staff to whip this crew into some sort of consistency. It would be nice for everybody if it's the sort of consistency that produced three solid quarters of basketball Saturday. After giving up an absurd 46 points in the first quarter to the Wolves, they allowed "only" 90 in the last three quarters.
So far this season, that qualifies as handcuff defense.
"We played with a little more edge, a little more pride, but again, we can't get down like that," said Wesley Matthews, who bristles about the fact that the Mavericks have surrendered an average of 128.5 points in the first two games. "As soon as our defense shows up, we'll be a tough team.
"Offense is not going to be one of our issues."
Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr. and, perhaps starting Monday night, Harrison Barnes, will make sure of that. The Mavericks have playmakers to burn, including new center DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Powell, J.J. Barea and others off the bench.
As they say, growing some teeth and backbone are going to be the critical factors that will turn this group into a relevant threat in the Western Conference. If they play with the passion that was on display for the last three quarters Saturday, this team will deliver the goods.
And by that, we mean entertainment value and a fair amount of victories.
Part of this equation rests with Carlisle, of course. He has to make decisions that often do not sit well with some of his players.
You could tell when he yanked Smith in the first quarter Saturday that the second-year point guard was not thrilled.
"After the bad start, all the starters got pulled, and they weren't happy about it," Carlisle said. "They wanted to stay in there. But Dennis bounced back and made plays that were the decisive, winning plays in the game.
"And that's what character is. Luka, after a disappointing start, got himself into the game with aggression and was making plays at both ends. We had some guys play great."
That helps, too, of course.
Two other things have become clear in the first week of the season.
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First, the Mavericks are going to rely on at least 10 players, and sometimes more than that, per game. They played a dozen in the opener and 10 contributed in the win over Minnesota.
"Everything is on the table," Carlisle said. "When you're missing guys like Barnes and Dirk [Nowitzki], you become a sum-of-the-parts-type team. Everybody can bring something positive to our game. We've got to be ready to pull the trigger on getting them in there if there's a need."
Second, watching Smith and Doncic build chemistry is going to be fascinating. Even those on the outside can see the potential.
"Terrific talents," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They have bright futures. They're basketball players. And that's sort of the way the league is going. They have terrific young talent coming through the pipeline -- Jalen Brunson as well."
World according to Wesley: Matthews had an interesting take on the ridiculous league-wide scoring binge early in the season.
"I know it's good for viewing," he said. "But we've got to be able to stop somebody. It's only entertaining if you win. Otherwise, it's a hell of a film session when you lose."
Matthews was less concerned with his 3-of-15 shooting, which is where he stood before making the final four shots he took Saturday.
"Shooters shoot," he said. "Shoot to get hot. Shoot to stay hot. Short-term memory. If I miss, I think it's the rim's fault, not mine."
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