It’s been quite a while that the Dallas Mavericks have been looking for someone to help Dirk Nowitzki take a step back and not be so worried about being the main scoring threat the team has. In the season opening 118-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Monta Ellis showed that the search might be finally over.
Ellis isn’t the most efficient of scorers, but his numbers over the last six or seven years prove that he’ll put up points one way or another. He finished with 32 to cap off his debut for the Mavs, having an excellent night, shooting 12-of-17 from the field, adding 8 assists, as the backcourt combo of himself and Jose Calderon worked very well. Calderon doesn’t have to do much scoring with his specific team, finishing with only 5 points but also 11 assists.
As for Nowitzki, the Mavs were at their best during his 33 minutes on the floor, with the Mavs winning by 18 during that time. He finished with 24 points, including four three pointers, as it was difficult for the Hawks to manage Ellis’ movement and the constant threat of Nowitzki, which has been the scourge of defenses for a very long time just by being present on the floor even before he touches the ball.
The surprising offensive bit came from Vince Carter, officially one of the oldest players in the NBA, who scored 21 points coming off the bench. He had something of a Renaissance season last year, and the Mavs will need every bit of his scoring off the bench for a team that does have scoring options, but not a lot of depth or talent to cover for them when things aren’t working.
After all, the lineup has Samuel Dalembert at center, who won’t give them a lot more than the 4 points he scored. DeJuan Blair, another debutante did come off the bench to give 9 points, but it’ll be mostly about Ellis keeping things together and Nowitzki enjoying a bit less of attention on him , also enabling him to be more of a facilitator than before, finishing with 5 assists as well.
The Hawks won’t get far when Al Horford is scoring only 11 points and Kyle Korver, getting a contract that immediately turns him into an overrated player, hitting only one of four from beyond the arc. Their bench looks extremely bland as well, so it’ll be up to Horford to step up his game and level with Jeff Teague (24 points) and Paul Millsap (20 points) for the rest of the season.
There were other debuts for the Mavs, as Gal Mekel became the second player from Israel to play in the NBA. The backup point guard had a lot of teams chasing him during the offseason, but hasn’t done much to prove the cause, playing nine minutes and scoring only 2 points. His minutes should be reduced when Devin Harris is back from his injury. Wayne Ellington, scoring 6 points in 14 minutes, isn’t going to do much more than that, while Ellis and Nowitzki continue to carry most of the load.