Whispers of a so-called “revenge game” resembled titanium musings around the league: Tyson Chandler, who was twice burned by the Dallas Mavericks, would have an axe to grind with his former team for not being “their first option”, and he was going to stomp all over their little blue hearts. Little did those who were doing the whispering know, the Mavericks had other plans in mind.
In their 2015-16 regular season debut, the Mavericks showed absolutely no mercy to the Phoenix Suns and shut them down along with their doubters. Standing tall behind Raymond Felton’s 18-point night (yes, you read that right – RAYMOND FELTON), Dallas pulverized the Suns 111-95 proving that their winless preseason means, well, absolute crap. Head coach Rick Carlisle put and an amazing show complete with extremely diverse basketball, a perdurable defense, and managed to keep the turnovers, a problem that lingered on the backside of the Mavericks last season, to a low minimum.
Those who thought that the Mavs proved weak without the penetrating ice stare of small forward (and future face of the franchise) Chandler Parsons were met with a considerably large surprise when Wednesday’s starters – Dirk Nowitzki, Zaza Pachulia, Felton, Deron Williams, and Wes Matthews (who played his first preseason game on Sunday) – came out guns blazing and ripped apart the arena without the help of the golden boy. The first quarter was all about the Mavs defending without fouling and managed to get every Suns player into foul trouble. Off the bench, J.J. Barea did an excellent job at doing what he does best, being a professional headache to opposing players on both ends of the court, while the winner of the Rajon Rondo debacle of last season, Dwight Powell, showed off skills that made all of us feel that it was HIM the Mavs coveted the entire time. Rondo who? Mavs led 24-22 by the close of the first.
Before the end of the first half, Pachulia was proving that he is a calculating big who isn’t too flashy, but extremely forceful when needed, especially against Chandler, who seemed bewildered after Zaza pulled a swipe move on him, which resulted in the latter’s third foul of the game. Charlie Villanueva continued to prove himself worthy of being deemed elite by putting up 10 points right off the bench with a whoopla of splashy treys. Dallas out-shot the Suns 43.6 percent to 33.3 percent and managed to force 10 turnovers to overcome a 30-24 rebounding deficit. They led 54-45 at the half.
Third quarter dramatics ensued when Williams collided with Eric Bledsoe and went down. This caused most on the Mavericks’ side to catch their breath since Williams had miss almost all of training camp with a calf issue. He disappeared for a bit, but returned to the bench later in the quarter and was downgraded to doubtful when his team hit the 88-66 mark.
Mavs would end up snatching away Phoenix’s dignity and remain undefeated as they head to Los Angeles on Thursday in order to face public enemy number one, DeAndre Jordan and his LA Clippers, in the final game of a back-to-back.
Is it perhaps a coincidence that the NBA scheduled back-to-back games where the Mavericks face two high-profiled debacles? One of which is a nationally televised game (Mavs at Clippers)? Hell no it’s not – the scheduler just has a sick sense of humor.
At least it makes for damn good basketball.
10:00 PM ET, October 28, 2015
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Dal: R. Felton 18 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast
PHX: J. Leuer 14 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk