Preseason is near its end and soon the 82-game regular season will be underway, worry not. Until then, enjoy some Mavericks basketball as Dallas matches up with the Hawks tonight at 6:30 CST for a road test in Atlanta.
Here are three keys to follow for tonight’s contest.
Get back on D!
Tonight could very well end up being a game similar to the Mavs win against the Bulls earlier in preseason. Dallas topped Chicago, 118-71, at the American Airlines Center. The Bulls were a struggling offense as they search for a new identity in the post-Jimmy Butler era. Atlanta finds itself in the same crux of a situation.
After losing Paul Millsap, the final extension of a once-dynamic Hawks roster loaded with talents like Jeff Teague and Al Horford, this roster is structured around budding talent Dennis Schröder. The Hawks have been slow to find their balance, offensively, averaging 96.5 points per contest. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are allowing 95.8 points per game on average. If Dallas can find its offense early, this will be another rout.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s just Dennis!
Atlanta also parted ways with Dwight Howard in the offseason. Dewayne Dedmon, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, was brought in to fill Howard’s void in the paint. Miles Plumlee joins Dedmon to take on the role. But ESPN reports Plumlee will miss 2-3 weeks with a strained right quad.
Dedmon and Plumlee are the only two listed centers on the Hawks’ roster, creating a larger burden for the former in the upcoming weeks, including tonight’s contest. Dennis Smith’s mystical athleticism is well-documented on this site, presumably along with many others. Look for Smith to expose a lack of rim protection throughout the evening — albeit, Dedmon has blocked 5 shots this preseason — which could pave way for several exciting highlights.
Barnes & Noble
Despite being the team’s highest-paid player, Harrison Barnes doesn’t seem too concerned with the spotlight. His workman-like approach has eased his transition between franchises and quickly endeared him among the MFFL crowd. Barnes continues improving quietly while allowing his teammates to dominate the storylines leading up to the regular season.
This could be a tune-up for the 6-foot-8 forward as he prepares for the preseason finale. Dallas wraps its preseason in North Carolina — where Barnes spent his collegiate career — against the Charlotte Hornets.
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