Dallas Mavericks: 3 Takeaways From The Season Opener

Oct 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague (44) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague (44) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Mavericks opened the regular season with an overtime loss and there were a few things we learned from the game.

The Dallas Mavericks began their 2016-17 campaign with a 130-121 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The primary lineup seen from the team consisted of J.J. Barea, Deron WilliamsWesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki as each received 35 minutes of gameplay in Rick Carlisle‘s small-ball lineup.

They used six- to seven-point runs to stay within reach of the Pacers throughout the evening and made their final push when they took the lead in the fourth quarter.

With 2.3 seconds left, Barnes hit a three-pointer that would send the game to overtime, where the Mavs failed to overcome surging center Myles Turner as he completed a 30-point night.

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Here’s three takeaways from the first game of the season:

1. Harrison Barnes is going to be just fine

One of the biggest stories surrounding the Mavs had to do with Harrison Barnes. After receiving a four-year, max contract in the summer, expectations were high and he was expected to become a more involved player with the Mavs.

However, people were quick to rush to conclusions when he shot a combined 16-for-60 in the preseason with some very poor shooting nights.

But Barnes turned up the intensity in his first regular season game with the Mavs and played more like what we expected.

He was present in the lane and tossed in a few short buckets off of rebounds, but he had a stroke from long distance too, as he shot three-for-six from the three-point line.

After Jeff Teague went one-for-two on a pair of late free throws, the Mavs rushed down the court trailing 115-112. Williams couldn’t find a shot and neither could Nowitzki, but luckily, Barnes was wide open and he sunk a three-pointer that tied the game and sent it to overtime.

He nearly dropped a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds, but it was his 8-for-14 shooting night that stuck out. Barnes was efficient and effective on both ends of the floor.

He hit late buckets, he played a physical brand of basketball and he almost helped the Mavs pull off a come-from-behind win. This was more like the Harrison Barnes we were expecting to see in Dallas.

2. The Mavs may not have one defined sixth man

Another thing that stuck out was the bench play from the Mavs. Just four players received double-digit minutes as J.J. Barea, Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell and Seth Curry formed the bench effort for the team.

Barea was by far one of the best players on the court at all times as he logged 39 minutes and put up 22 points, six assists and two rebounds. Curry and Anderson both earned seven points while Powell failed to score.

The one thing that shocked me was the fact that Quincy Acy played just one minute. It was physical down in the lane as the Pacers had a couple of big bodies to occupy space. That was an area where Acy could’ve thrived.

But returning to the main contributors, it certainly feels like the Mavs don’t have a defined sixth man.

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You could make the case for Barea as he nearly led the team in minutes and served as one of their primary offensive options, but he likely won’t put up 20-point games all the time, and other players are going to get some of those minutes in the future.

Anderson and Curry used their athleticism to succeed and both played some nice defense–especially Curry, who forced a few late-game turnovers before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

For the Mavs, it’s better to keep a system with no clear-cut sixth man. Use a group attack when it comes to generating bench production and don’t worry about assigning one player to a specific role.

3. He’s still Dirk Nowitzki … even in year 19

Another big question for the Mavs was how Dirk Nowitzki was going to play this season. Three of his past rivals in Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett all retired this offseason, leaving him as one of the only players of his era still in the NBA.

Nowitzki got off to a 1-for-7 start but ended up impacting the game in a big way. After logging 38 minutes and filling the stat sheet with 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks, it was clear that Nowitzki had not taken a step back.

His 4-for-9 shooting from three helped keep the Mavs in the game at key moments throughout regulation and he looked as good as ever with the way he attracted defenders and made the right plays to ensure success.

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In the end, the Mavs did lose the game, but I wouldn’t consider it a bad loss because of what we saw from key players and how the team played as a whole.

Sure, there were plenty of defensive breakdowns and other usual reasons for a loss, but the Mavs played arguably a top-three team in the East and their best players proved themselves when it mattered.

The Mavs may not be a premier Western Conference team, but they do look like a legitimate contender for a playoff spot.