Just like that, the Dallas Mavericks went from starting preseason action with a terrible 0-3 record to righting themselves and winning their final two games in impressive fashion.
So what changed?
“Just playing together and just getting a feel for playing with each other,” guard Jalen Brunson said. “The more and more we play together, the more we trust each other on the defensive side of the ball and offensive side of the ball.
“The more we play together, the more comfortable we get.”
Certainly, the Mavs looked extremely comfortable in running past the Oklahoma City Thunder, 107-70, on Monday. That comfort level rose another notch on Thursday when the Mavs raced to an early 24-9 lead and cruised to a 102-87 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Canada Series played in Vancouver.
After finishing preseason with a 2-3 record, the Mavs now turn their attention to their regular season opener, which is Wednesday night at 7:30 at American Airlines Center against the Washington Wizards.
“Preseason is over, the make-believe stuff is over and it’s time to get on to the serious business of preparing for Wednesday, and that’s what we’ll do,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The serious stuff is upon us.
“We’ll take the positives, look to build on them, and we’ll take the negatives and we’ll keep working on them. But this (win over the Clippers) is in the rearview mirror already and we’ve got to prepare for Wednesday.”
Part of that preparation encompasses what the Mavs will be able to take from the past two games when they resembled a well-oiled machine with the way they were able to hit their shots, rebound and play stout defense.
“The NBA preseason is short,” center Kristaps Porzingis said. “It’s a couple of weeks, and every game is (making) adjustments and getting more used to playing with each other.”
As the Mavs become accustomed to playing with one another – particularly new players such as Delon Wright, Boban Marjanovic and Porzingis – the hope is that the familiarity will pay huge dividends down the road.
“We’re still building and we’re going to keep building as this season goes on, so we’re in no rush,” Porzingis said. “We obviously want to go game-by-game, day-by-day and get better, but it’s going to take some time.”
Forward Justin Jackson agreed with Porzingis that Mavericks Nation may have to exercise some patience as this team searches for an identity while also trying to dot all of its I’s and cross all of its T’s.
“I think the most important thing is just learning every day,” Jackson said. “Whether it’s from the opposing team, from the coaches, whatever it might be.
“It’s just a matter of us continuing to try to learn and get better.”
MAVS TOOK THE DAY OFF
After winning in Vancouver against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, the Mavs flew home and arrived in Dallas on Friday afternoon. They will be back at practice on Saturday morning at the Lympo practice facilities.
While the weather in Vancouver was unusually cold and rainy, it still was a successful trip for the Mavs. And a successful trip for the NBA, considering that a sellout crowd of 17,204 attended Thursday’s contest in a city that steadfastly wants an NBA franchise.
“The crowds in Vancouver have always been great,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’ve always been extremely enthusiastic about NBA basketball.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. It’s great to be back and see what a beautiful city it is again, and also to play in front of a crowd like this.”
The Grizzlies played six years in Vancouver starting in 1995 before moving to Memphis for the 2001-’02 season.
HARDAWAY GETS HIGH MARKS
Carlisle was raving about the training camp performance of guard Tm Hardaway Jr. following Thursday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Hardaway came off the bench and played 22 minutes against the Clippers, was 6-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from 3-point land and finished with 15 points. He also tied Kristaps Porzingis with a game-high +20 in the plus/minus category.
“I thought Tim Hardaway had a great training camp,” Carlisle said. “He’s been a total professional.
“He’s ready to accept any role that we throw at him, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, and we need him. He’s played really, really well.”