Dallas Mavericks preseason game 2 preview vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Luka Doncic Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Luka Doncic Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks face the Philadelphia 76ers at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China for their first of two consecutive preseason matchups.

Fresh off of their first preseason victory over the Beijing Ducks, the Dallas Mavericks hopped on a plane to travel overseas to Shanghai. They will take on Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the Philadelphia 76ers in a game put together by the NBA to continue their efforts to expand the popularity of the league globally.

The game is on Friday morning, Oct. 5 at 6:30 a.m. CT, because of the time zone difference, so plan accordingly.

Several Mavericks will be unavailable to play including Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and DeAndre Jordan. The statuses of other players who have been nursing minor injuries such as Dwight Powell, J.J. Barea, and Ding Yanyuhang are still to be determined.

Looking back vs. Ducks

Although the last game was against a far inferior opponent, there were a lot of positives to take away from the Mavs matchup with the Ducks last Saturday night.

Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. appeared very comfortable playing together. Their chemistry on the court could be the key to a successful season.

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Doncic flashed everything that prompted the Mavericks to trade up to select him in the 2018 NBA Draft. His passing was excellent, despite only recording two assists. He had several hockey assists or passes to other players that immediately made the assist. He also provided a lot of help on the glass, recording six rebounds, and even flashed some rim protection with three blocks.

His scoring it probably what stood out the most. Doncic scored 16 points on only seven attempts from the floor. He put the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways including at the rim, from deep, in the midrange, and from the charity stripe.

Dennis Smith Jr. also came to play with 16 points, six assists, and no turnovers. It’s already apparent playing with DeAndre Jordan will have a major impact on his game as DJ’s threat as a roll man gave Smith Jr. space to drive Saturday that was not there last year.

Smith reminded us what kind of athlete he was with a couple of jaw-dropping plays. The first, a ferocious jam off of an offensive rebound of his own miss.

The second, an amazing display of balance to not fall to the ground and keep his dribble after slipping followed by an acrobatic finish at the rack (the number one play of the night on this top-five from the NBA).

Injuries provide opportunities

The absence of Barnes, Jordan, and Nowitzki will provide the younger players with an opportunity to shine.

Maxi Kleber really stood out against the Ducks with 15 points and eight rebounds.

More inexperienced guys like Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Ryan Broekhoff, Ray Spalding, Jalen Brunson, and two-way play Kostas Antetokounmpo will all get ample opportunity to show what they can offer against the Sixers in China.

These games are a golden opportunity for these players to separate themselves from the rest of the group and make a case for why they deserve regular season minutes.

Key matchups

The story of this game will be the two key head-to-head matchups. Dennis Smith Jr. versus Markelle Fultz will be a battle of two of the most promising young guards from last year’s draft. The most important duel will be between two passing savant forwards in Ben Simmons and Luka Doncic.

The world knows what Simmons can do, but Doncic still remains somewhat of a mystery. His detractors constantly point out that he has never faced NBA athleticism, and that his lack of quickness might hold him back from ever being a star.

It’s too bad that DeAndre Jordan was unable to make the trip due to a personal issue because it would have been fun to watch him and Embiid bang in the post. His presence was certainly felt in the preseason opener, he brings something that the team hasn’t had since 2011 Tyson Chandler in elite rebounding and interior defense.

Simmons will be an ideal test for Doncic because he’s quick, he’s one of the rare players who are bigger than Doncic, and he is an excellent defender. If Doncic can prove to be effective against Simmons and another quick, athletic defender in Robert Covington, then the Mavs could be in the hunt sooner than expected.

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All we can do now is simply wait and see.