- Here we go. The Mavs’ starters to open the season are DSJ, Yogi, Wes, Barnes, and Dirk. Let’s just get this out of the way: this is a terrible defensive lineup. That changes when Noel gets on the floor, something we’ll see later (then, unfortunately, won’t see at the end of the game).
- DSJ has some legit style when he faces up his man 1 on 1. The production is still suspect, but his game already looks cooler than most of the league.
- The first basket for DSJ is a beautiful alley-oop. Dirk is the key on this play; as DSJ sprints to the rim, Schroder gets caught on Dirk’s screen at the high post, and Dedmon has to decide whether to guard the rim or guard Dirk. He doesn’t really do either, and DSJ gets the slam.
- I think Dirk’s job this year is to guide DSJ smoothly into the league; running a pick and roll with Dirk is about as cushy of a job as you can get as a PG. Dirk is getting looks and DSJ is finding him, but the shots aren’t falling. Hopefully this changes, I’d rather not watch Dirk spend the last years of his career clanging shots he used to drill.
- Barnes’ first shot comes when he completely loses Ilyasova and decides to shoot a 3 instead of attacking a wide open lane. He misses.
- Noel comes in and the impact is immediate, like The Rock joining the Fast and Furious crew. Guards can now go over screens and Noel does a great job defending both the ball and screener.
- The JJ-Noel pick and roll is so sexy. Crazy that both of those guys are coming off the bench.
- Flashes of old school Devin Harris slashes to the rim. He was one of the first players I really enjoyed watching as a young gun on the Mavs a decade ago.
- Switching on defense looks more like a zone. That’s so Carlisle.
- Dirk isn’t completely terrible as a rim defender. He’s smart and knows he’s really tall, that should be enough to be somewhat of a diversion.
- Noel gets a fantastic block, but DSJ gets tunnel vision on the resulting break. He needs to know when to drop it a few gears.
- DSJ again goes for an ill-advised dunk attempt into like 3 dudes. And this is the first time (probably out of many) that I’m going to point this out: I don’t like how DSJ lands. He’s obviously well defended here, but even in general, his landings are harsh and violent. Hard to say if that’s coachable, I just want the kid to keep his knees. As I was watching the game and writing this paragraph in my head, DSJ actually has a knee issue from the landing and leaves the game. Yay.
- JJ replaces DSJ and plays with the rest of the starters. Defensive issues aside, this lineup has crazy spacing (5-out is the new spread offense of basketball). Despite that Atlanta is defending the paint well and Dirk is still throwing up bricks. Atlanta continues to force the issue inside (is this the new version of Bud Ball?) while Dallas misses jump shots, and the Hawks build a lead.
- The offense comes out looking good. Barnes has a good drive, and DSJ is back on the court and hitting pull up jumpers.
- Given Dirk’s struggles from the perimeter, it may be best to try to get him mismatches in the post. DSJ gets his man to switch onto 41, but the ball finds Wes, who ignores it and fails at a drive.
- Fun sequence when Yogi gets a sneaky steal, leading to DSJ dishing to Wes for a corner three. Still raw but good things happen when these guys move around. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the lineups with Barnes and Noel in the frontcourt, there were flashes of great ball movement and the defensive versatility is obvious.
- Belinelli has his spicy italian meatballs on full display, showing that he’s one of the few real men on the Hawks. I’m trying to figure out which title contender is going to trade for him in February (OKC?). Speaking of which…
- The Hawks’ final offensive possession in the quarter is a spread high screen for Belinelli. A rare treat of a basketball play, watching Belinelli given the keys to the car should always be fun.
- JJ hits a deep three to end the quarter as a Mike Breen “BANG!” goes off in my head.
- A great play early in the quarter, Noel sets a ball screen and his cut to the rim is well defended, but him being tall and standing under the basket isn’t well defended, so Barea just throws it at the basket and lets Noel finish. Good things seem to happen when Noel is out there.
- Dirk gets a PG switched onto him in the key, and almost nails a 360 no scope of a shot.
- Instead of just catching the ball, Noel misses a tap out on an offensive rebound. The tap out is effective, but if you can grab the ball just do it.
- The game is going back and forth, but Dallas is repeatedly getting gashed by Schroder. As the Hawks bring the ball up Wes moves over to defend Dennis with a “let’s see you get past me” look. He then proceeds to let Dennis blow by him as he pointlessly goes for a ball poke while Schroder gets a free pass to the rim. Remember when Wes was one of the 3 and D monsters of the league?
- At least Wes still has the first half of that moniker on lock. The Mavs spend a few minutes trading twos for threes. I love seeing Powell stretch the floor, but if it is at the cost of Noel getting crunch time minutes I can live without it. (Also, it seems like Powell has been taking classes at the Chandler Parsons Pump Fake Academy. Slow, but well sold and somehow effective. To bad he can’t do anything off the dribble.)
- Ilyasova is the other real man on the Hawks. The core of him, Schroder and Belinelli was good enough to win tonight. Not great.
- Every time Harrison Barnes is involved in a play, the gods flip a coin…
- Neither Dirk NOR Noel are on the floor to finish the game, which is the main takeaway. Carlisle said that Dirk told him to keep Powell in, who was playing well. Even though I’m all in on Dirk being a player-coach at this point, Noel had passed the eye test and box score test by this point, and everybody watching could see the Hawks dominating in the paint on both ends. Crunch time will be very interesting moving forward.