Game Preview: Mavericks Open Season Against Hawks

Trae Young

Getty Trae Young looks to facilitate offense against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Dallas Mavericks kick off their season against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, looking to get their season off to a positive start. It’s the opening game for both teams, who made the playoffs last season and likely will again in the 2021-22 season. 

It will be the regular season coaching debut for Jason Kidd, who replaced Rick Carlisle this summer at the helm. 

As Dallas starts the season on the road for their first two games, their season will begin at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.

The game will be on national television, airing on TNT at 7:30PM ET as one of the premier matchups of the night. 

Atlanta and Dallas will play one more time this season in early February, with the Mavericks getting a chance to play the Hawks at home that time around.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this opening matchup is the rivalry between Luka Doncic and Trae Young, who are two of the best young stars in the NBA. What can be expected in the Mavericks’ first game of the season?

Luka Doncic & Trae Young

In the 2018 NBA Draft, Doncic and Young were traded for each other, sparking an intriguing storyline as both of their careers started to unfold. They’ve both had a ton of success early in their respective careers, but will always be compared because of this draft night deal. 

Since these two players were drafted, Doncic and the Mavericks have won four out of six head-to-head matchups. This includes wins in four of the last five games and both contests last season. 

In the two games last season, Doncic averaged 27.5 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds per game and was instrumental in pulling out both wins. 

While Young couldn’t get the Hawks over the hump against Dallas last season, he played well, averaging 23 points, 12 assists and 5.5 rebounds per contest. 

Who will get the win for their team in this opening game? It’ll be a fun head-to-head matchup on Thursday and for many years to come. 

Keys to the Game

The Hawks went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and are extremely talented. They will be a tough test for the Mavs on opening night. 

Surprisingly, Atlanta actually doesn’t shoot as many 3-pointers as you’d think, attempting just 33.4 per game last season which was 19th in the NBA.

What the Hawks do extremely well is rebound the ball. In the 2020-21 season, their 45.6 boards per game made them a top-five rebounding team in the league. The Mavericks shouldn’t have a huge problem cleaning up the glass this season with how many bigs they have.  Additionally, they’ve got perhaps the best rebounding guard in the NBA in Doncic. 

If Dallas is going to have success on Thursday, the rebound battle will be key. 

Dwight Powell

GettyDwight Powell talks to Mavericks teammate Boban Marjanovic between plays.

Additionally, they’ll need to take care of the ball. The Mavericks committed the third-most turnovers per game in the NBA last season. That will be a focus against the Hawks, as well as the rest of the season. 

Atlanta is deep, with real contributors in the starting lineup and off the bench that can score the ball. If Dallas is going to compete with the Hawks on Thursday and with the other top NBA teams this season, they will need to focus on the defensive side of the ball. 

While the Mavericks have the firepower to win shootout games, that’s almost never a sustainable model of success. They will have the opportunity to take the next step as a team if they’re able to improve on defense and begin to beat teams on that end of the floor. 

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