As for the outcome of the game, there were some high points and there were some areas that greatly need improvement. The Mavericks generally executed well on offense, shooting 50 percent from the field. However, they had a massive problem with turnovers, accumulating 17 in the first half and 28 for the game.
Coach Rick Carlisle thinks that the keys to success this year will be playing solid defense and avoiding turnovers. According to him, one of the team’s biggest problems last season was “catastrophic turnovers,” meaning those that led to easy fast-break points for the other team.
The defense was actually solid in the first preseason game, despite being a perceived weakness coming into the season. The Pelicans only shot 43 percent for the game, and they mostly got hot in the fourth quarter when all of the Mavericks’ starters and most of the their main role players were already on the bench for the night.
One area lacking defensively was in the paint, largely due to starting center Samuel Dalembert being in foul trouble. It is reasonable to expect that Dalembert would have been able to slow Anthony Davis down at least some, and perhaps kept him from scoring a game-high 25 points. Instead, Dalembert watched from the bench, and only managed to play 11 minutes.
The most troubling stat of the game was the 28 turnovers, led by rookie Gal Mekel with five. This is certainly something to keep an eye on, as high turnovers is a particularly negative trend, but it isn’t something to worry about just yet. Mekel will probably never start a game during the regular season. He was only playing because starter Jose Calderon was hurt, as were Devin Harris and rookie Shane Larkin, all of whom are most likely ahead of Mekel on the depth chart. When those players come back, the turnover problem should right itself.
Overall, it was a decent debut for the Mavericks, but they’ll have to continue to focus on defense and ball security. If they can limit the turnovers and play solid defense, this is a team that could really sneak up on the league.