The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up the preseason with a clash against the Dallas Mavericks and, nearly one week later, the team will open the regular season against the same opponent. This time, though, the real lights are on and the Mavericks are actually deploying their full crew, making things quite interesting in Game 1 of 82.
For the Hawks, the full, 15-man roster (miss you, Quinn Cook) won’t be available, as Miles Plumlee is still on the shelf with injury and Isaiah Taylor isn’t quite up to speed given his late arrival and a lack of practice time. Still, the projected rotation won’t be affected by that absence and the starting lineup led by Dennis Schröder, Dewayne Dedmon and others should get its first glimpse of real, live game action in this spot.
In terms of match-ups, the highlight pairing will be Schröder against Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the “winner” of that battle could be telling as to the final result. Smith Jr. is gaining a ton of hype as a darkhorse ROY candidate and, if nothing else, he is an electric piece at the point of attack for Dallas.
Smith Jr. is not, however, the best player on the Mavericks team in the way that Schröder is and it will be interesting to see how Atlanta handles Dallas on the defensive end. Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki will serve as pivot points at various times for the home team in this game and, if the Mavs lean on small ball, Mike Budenholzer’s adjustments will be of note.
Wednesday’s game is also the NBA debut of John Collins and the preseason indicates that he should open the campaign in the rotation. His minutes should be must-see television.
From a Vegas perspective, the Hawks enter the season opener as approximately a 6-point underdog in this spot and, while no one knows anything right now, that is a window into expectations for the opener. Atlanta begins the season with five games on the road and, while some may not project victory in this spot, it would be nice to see a competitive, competent effort on the road.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, October 18, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: American Airlines Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game”