The Dallas Mavericks kicked off their 2013-14 season with a win against the Atlanta Hawks. While it was far from perfect, it was a very solid win, and gave a glimpse of what the Mavericks might be capable of this season.
The most obvious thing that stood out was the dominant offense. Monta Ellis exploded for 32 points, Dirk Nowitzki added an efficient 24 and Vince Carter dropped in 21. The team totaled 118 points, and shot over 57 percent from the field.
Ellis’ aggression is a perfect complement to Nowitzki’s godly shooting touch. Nearly every player on the team can pass the ball well, led by Jose Calderon and his fast-moving style. This is going to be a team that likes to score fast and likes to score a lot.
However, some of the perceived weaknesses coming into the season were not as pronounced as perhaps they were expected to be. The Mavericks actually had a solid advantage in rebounding, which was very surprising. They held Al Horford and Paul Millsap to just five rebounds each. Samuel Dalembert led all players with nine rebounds.
In the past, offensive rebounding has been an issue, but the Mavericks may have solved that problem simply by adding DeJuan Blair. All five of Blair’s rebounds were offensive. The Hawks had five offensive rebounds for the game.
Defense was pinpointed as the team’s most-glaring deficiency, but it actually wasn’t awful for this game. The team played quite a bit of zone and was quick with their help defense. Jeff Teague managed to pretty much do whatever he wanted on offense for the Hawks, but the rest of the team was held mostly in check. They may not be made up of the best individual defenders, and opposing guards may be their Achilles heel all season, but if this Mavericks team can just muster average defense, their offense should be able to carry them against most teams.
The Hawks managed to score 108 points, but that is a bit misleading. The Mavericks had 20 turnovers for the game which led to 26 points. This is not going to be the norm once Dallas’ new faces get accustomed to playing with one another. Don’t expect Calderon to have four turnovers in many games this year. And certainly don’t expect Ellis to have seven.
Overall, there are many things to be encouraged about. The fact that turnovers ended up being the biggest problem can actually be taken as a victory, as that should work itself out given the time. The Houston Rockets on Friday should be a very good test to see how effective the Mavericks can really be this year.