As the Dallas Mavericks prepare to host the Houston Rockets in their home opener Tuesday at American Airlines Center, patience remains a buzzword.
The offseason change at the front of the Mavericks’ bench was significant enough to inspire cries for that patience, especially following an 26-point season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks last week.
With Jason Kidd having replaced Rick Carlisle, enough has changed for the Mavericks (even with the bulk of Dallas’ roster remaining intact from last season) to require a period of acclimation.
And after Dallas followed the 113-87 loss in Atlanta with a 103-95 road victory over the Toronto Raptors, the realization sets in that uneven performances, at least during the early stages of this season, are to be expected.
The most critical constant for the Mavericks remains All-NBA guard Luka Doncic. After missing 11 of 17 shots and committing five turnovers in the loss at Atlanta, Doncic finished a rebound shy of a triple-double with 27 points, nine boards and 12 assists against the Raptors.
All of the components of his exceptional game were on display, with Doncic possessing the generational talent capable of mitigating the concerns that come with a coaching change and the related adjustments to new leadership and philosophies. Things will be different for the Mavericks under Kidd, but letting Doncic steer the ship through change is a savvy decision.
“We have a very talented player in Luka who starts everything,” Kidd said. “With him at the top and being able to read who’s open, he’s a great quarterback. So, guys were setting screens higher trying to give him some air space and he was aggressive. I know he probably felt like he could have made a couple more baskets, but I thought he played a really good game.
“He found the open guy, he looked at the basket when he had an opportunity to score. I thought he had an incredible game.”
The Rockets got their first tantalizing glimpse of the touted scoring talent of rookie guard Jalen Green in their 107-97 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Green scored 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting and set a franchise rookie record with eight 3-pointers. He added four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in a dazzling all-around display, the first of many to come for the second overall pick in the 2021 draft and Rookie of the Year contender.
“After I hit my first 3 I felt good,” Green said. “I didn’t really see a shot that I didn’t like. I’m not trying to force anything. Obviously I want to win over anything. If that’s me going to get 30 or nine, or 15 or 20, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
It will be paramount for the Rockets to remind Green that living up to advanced billing shouldn’t be burdensome. Although youthful, Houston has enough talent for Green to merely find his role and let his gifts manifest. Three games into his first season, he took steps toward that process.
“He’s talented, obviously,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “He was putting a lot of pressure on himself to produce, succeed and all of that. It seemed like he didn’t put as much pressure on himself (against Boston), he just played. It wasn’t like we were running a whole bunch of stuff for him. He found it within what we do.”
–Field Level Media