Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 111-104 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena:
1. BARNES AND NOWITZKI ARE SORELY MISSED: When the Mavs needed someone to calm the muddied waters while the Hawks were staging that furious rally, there was no veteran they could lean on to stem the tide and get them a key basket. No veteran to say, ‘Hey fellas, let’s stop the bleeding, slow down, give me the ball and get out of the way.’ That’s precisely what Barnes and Nowitzki are built for. Those two can just go and you get a bucket when you need it. Unfortunately, Barnes (strained right hamstring) and Nowitzki (sore left ankle) haven’t played since last season.
2. TOO MANY RUSHED SHOTS: One sure-fire way to blow a 26-point lead is by taking ill-advised shots with multiple digits remaining on the shot clock. That happened way too many times Wednesday, and the Mavs paid dearly for it at the game’s end. One-pass rush shots are exactly what desperate teams who are down 26 points want you to do. Don’t fall for that trap! This was the time when the Mavs needed to slow their roll, work the shot clock, get their decision-making together and make sure they were able to get off a credible shot while making the Hawks expend some energy on defense.
3. BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY: After dominating play and silencing the crowd while being up by 26 points, it was imperative that the Mavs found a way to win Wednesday’s game by any means necessary. By any means necessary. The Mavs came out and threw a lot of body punches at the Hawks. Dallas scored 51 points in the first 16 minutes of the game. Then it was as if the Mavs took a lunch break as they only scored 53 points in the game’s final 32 minutes. The shot-making disappeared. The defense disappeared. It was a very strange game that had way too many twists and turns.
4. WHAT ABOUT THAT ROOKIE MATCHUP: I’m not real sure what to make of the rookie matchup between the Mavs’ Luka Doncic and the Hawks’ Trae Young, whose draft rights were traded for each other this past summer. Doncic finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three turnovers, and was 7-of-18 from the floor and 2-of-9 from 3-point land. Young collected 17 points, four rebounds, five assists and five turnovers and was 3-of-12 from the field and 1-of-3 from downtown. Ten of Young’s points came from the free throw line, while Doncic made five free throws.
5. WILL THERE BE A HANGOVER: After this game was over, I immediately started thinking whether the results will carry over into the next game. And the next game is Friday in Toronto against a 5-0 Raptors squad that’s one of only five unbeaten teams in the NBA. Sometimes teams lose two games in one night – the one they lost but shouldn’t have lost. And the next game while still thinking about the previous game that they shouldn’t have lost. The Mavs must have a short memory and let the game against the Atlanta Hawks go and concentrate solely on the Toronto Raptors.