DALLAS — Despite finishing the preseason with a bitter taste after suffering a 111-96 defeat on the road Friday night in Charlotte, the Dallas Mavericks believe they accomplished a lot during the exhibition schedule prior to Wednesday night’s season opener against Atlanta.
Opening up the 2017-18 regular season Wednesday at home against the Hawks, the Mavericks will try to hit the ground running towards a return to the playoffs. The Mavs will also attempt to build on things they found success with during the preseason after finishing the six-game exhibition schedule with a 4-2 record. And according to leading scorer Harrison Barnes, the Mavs will now try to flip a switch before attempting to bounce back from a 33-49 record last season.
“I think we accomplished a lot,” Barnes said while summing up the preseason following Friday’s loss. “We got a chance to definitely get our conditioning in, get a feel and let guys get a rhythm. I think (Thursday’s 108-94 win in Atlanta) was good for our young guys, and (Friday night) was good for our vets to go out there and just play together. And I think we have enough of a base to go out there on Wednesday.”
Showing glimpses of clicking on all cylinders when the full complement of players were available, the Mavericks averaged 95.3 points per game this preseason to rank 27th in the NBA. The Mavs also connected on 42.7 percent from the field as a team, ranking 26th in the league in that department. The Dallas team will now attempt to build on what it did successfully during the preseason as the games begin to count in the standings. That said, Friday’s loss will serve as motivation to play at a high level on a nightly basis.
Trailing 28-27 after the first quarter, the Mavs fought back to take a 56-54 edge into the halftime intermission Friday night. However, the Mavericks weren’t able to carry that success over to the second half, outscored by the Hornets 57-40 in the final two quarters. And after shooting just 32.6 percent from the field in the second half of Friday’s loss, the Mavs will attempt to put together a full 48 minutes during Wednesday’s matchup.
“I think that was good for us to come out and lose like that, even with our vets on the team as well,” rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. said after Friday’s loss. “You know, we don’t want to think anything is sweet going into the regular season. We just got whooped by the Hornets, who’s a good team, so it was a reality check. You know, we’ve got to come out and compete.”
All told, seven Hornets scored in double figures while outshooting the Mavs for the game Friday night, 49.4 percent to 41.2 percent. Charlotte also added a 50-37 rebounding advantage, overshadowing its 22 turnovers. And after allowing the Hornets to shoot 17 of 30 from beyond the three-point arc, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle confesses that his team will have to be better defensively Wednesday night against the Hawks.
“Well, on an overall basis, I wasn’t pleased with how we played in Charlotte. I think we were a little detached,” Carlisle explained. “We gave up a lot of threes, and we had breakdowns. Once the real games come and Atlanta comes in here on Wednesday, you know, it’s going to be a different world. They’re going to be a hungry, young and opportunistic team that spaces the floor and shoots the heck out of the three, and we’re going to have to be a (heck) of a lot better than we were against Charlotte.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Oct. 18 for the regular-season opener against the Atlanta Hawks. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (rest) — out