Mavericks Get Huge Wake-Up Call in Season Opening Loss

Luka Doncic

Getty Luka Doncic expresses frustration in season opener against the Atlanta Hawks.

In the first regular season game for Jason Kidd as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, things didn’t go well. Although it’s just one game and nothing that should be overreacted about, the Mavs got a real wake-up call in their 26-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks.


It’s worth noting that the Hawks were one of the best teams in the NBA last season. In fact, they went to the Eastern Conference Finals in last season’s playoffs.

However, with the Mavericks wanting to be a contender in the Western Conference, they’ll need to show they’re able to compete with teams like Atlanta.

In the 113-87 loss to the Hawks, things really got out of hand early in the second half. It appeared that Atlanta made much better adjustments than Dallas did at halftime, coming out with a strategy that put the game away.

What went wrong for the Mavericks? What needs to happen if they’re going to take that next step this season?

Slow Start for Star Duo

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the two players on this Mavericks roster that have to play well every single night. In the season opener, these two converted on just ten of their 30 combined shots. Against a talented Hawks team, that just isn’t ever going to be enough.

Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis

GettyLuka Doncic #77 (L) and Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Dallas Mavericks react against the LA Clippers in the first quarter in Game 3 on May 28, 2021 in Dallas, Texas.

To make things worse, Tim Hardaway Jr. is Dallas’ third-best scorer but produced just 14 points, which is well below where his season average will likely be. Doncic led the team with 18 points on the night, meaning nobody on the Mavs eclipsed the 20-point mark.

Scoring isn’t everything, as long as you’re able to play solid defense. That wasn’t the case for Dallas on Thursday, as they allowed Atlanta to score 113 points while shooting 42.9% from deep and 47.9% from the floor overall.

On both sides of the ball, the Hawks were clearly the better team.

New Players Getting Acquainted

The four key players the Mavericks added during the offseason are Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina, Sterling Brown and Moses Brown. Against the Hawks, those four players combined for just six total points in around 30 minutes played.

With that in mind, Moses Brown did not see any action and Ntilikina only played four minutes. However, with Sterling Brown and Bullock being guys that have high expectations off the bench, neither performed the way they were needed to.

Bullock and Brown shot a combined 2-for-9 from the floor. It’s just one game of many this season, but the opener was not the start the new guys on the roster were looking for.

It will be interesting to see how lineups change going forward, but after one game it appears that Dallas is leaning towards more of a small-ball lineup. With both Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber getting minutes over guys like Willie Cauley-Stein, perhaps a traditional center isn’t something the team is going to play much. In fact, Boban Marjanovic and Moses Brown are both traditional bigs who didn’t see any time on the court.

The Mavericks will certainly make adjustments going into their second game of the season against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, but opening night was not the performance they wanted.

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