The Dallas Mavericks lost their preseason opener to the Denver Nuggets by the score of 86-96.
Not to make any excuses, but the Mavericks were without Nowitzki, Parsons, Matthews, Williams, McGee, Powell, and Mejri. Yeah, I thought Carlisle was going to call my number to go in at one point. Anyway, to the game itself.
Man it was good to be back in American Airlines Center and hear the sounds of shoes squeaking and whistles blowing. Even without the main cornerstone Mavs dressed out, the crowd was more than ready for Mavs basketball to get underway.
It was also a first look for a young Nuggets team that featured top rookie Emmanuel Mudiay (who spent much of his early days in Dallas), Kenneth Faried, and Danilo Gallinari. We also welcomed back Jameer Nelson, a true professional I have gotten to talk to a few times here and there that was a well-respected player on and off the court.
Even in the loss, here is the 3 takeaways from tonight’s first game…
Charlie Gets Buckets…Everywhere
Listen, we all know Charlie Villanueva loves to chuck the shots, but I actually think he has gotten better. Last year, he was literally a statue that stood waiting for the ball behind the arc to hit his hands so he could launch it up in .42 seconds, this year could be different.
We saw Charlie score from driving in the paint, offensive rebounds, and even an emphatic fast break throw down that excited the bench and crowd. Of course he drained some threes also.
The Flamethrower finished with 18 points on 8/17 shooting, but could have finished with more. Carlisle sent the main vets of Charlie, Barea, Devin, and Zaza to the locker room with 9 min to go in the game. Leaving the close knit game in the hands of the youngsters, clearly Rick had a plan going into the night.
It will be interesting to see how many minutes Charlie gets this year as we all know he can put the ball in the basket.
Evans is a Roster Lock
It was halftime and I checked my personal twitter to see what some other Mavs fans were saying about the game. I came across a pretty popular Mavs fan twitter account that actually mentioned Jeremy Evans maybe not making the roster. Just stop. Jeremy Evans will be on the roster.
Evans’ stat sheet tonight doesn’t raise any eyebrows but if you watched the game or was in the arena, then almost all of the Mavs’ highlights came from the guy. The lanky former dunk champion swatted a Wilson Chandler transition lay-up off the backboard while also recording two back-to-back blocks in the lane later in the game. I see why Dirk mentioned him in the center conversation.
Besides the blocks, it was Evans soaring dunk through the lane that got the crowd out of their seats. Even my soccer loving Brazilian wife jumped out of her seat and said “WOW!” This is just an example of what Mavs fans will see this year.
Throughout the night we saw Evans get minutes at the five, four, and three positions on the court. He actually has a really nice form on his outside shot as word out of Mavs camp has him trying to improve his three-point shot. Big role for Evans this year I believe.
Justin Anderson’s Debut
Yes, Justin Anderson did not record a field goal the entire game. Yes, he seemed nervous at times with the ball. But no, I don’t think this was a bad game for the kid.
Anderson got some open shots tonight and followed through with his beautiful left-handed shot, but it simply didn’t fall. His first drive to the basket was a cocked back one-handed dunk attempt where he was fouled by Kenneth Faried. The crowd noticeably grasped.
Even though Anderson had a slow night offensively, it was his defense that impressed me the most. For most of the time he was in the game, Anderson went head-to-head with Danilo Gallinari, a guy who just got back from leading a well-rounded Italian team in EuroBasket. Even at times when Evans was in the game, Anderson was found matched up with the Italian.
With a major need for a wing defender, especially in the West, Anderson seems to be on track to fill that need. Better well-rounded games are ahead for Mr. Anderson.
*On a side note, Maurice Ndour did nothing but impress. I have been all over this guy since the day we have signed him and projected him to make the final roster in our round table a few weeks ago. I have an in-depth piece on him that will be published in the next 24-48 hours that I think you will enjoy.
Stay tuned as we preview our next game against the Rockets on 10/7.
Credit: Isaac Harris, The Smoking Cuban