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After scoring 46 points in a Game 6 loss in the first round of the playoffs, Luka Doncic walked off the court of Staples Center to embark on a long offseason. It was June 6, almost a full month before the Atlanta Hawks season ended in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Over the next few months, the Mavericks shook up their organization to position themselves as Western Conference contenders. The highlight of the summer in Dallas came when Doncic agreed to a 5-year, $207 million contract extension.

Despite having the salary cap to bring in a second All-Star, the Mavericks struck out in free agency. Team owner Mark Cuban ended up re-signing Tim Hardaway Jr., Willie Cauley-Stein, and Boban Marjanovic. Veterans Sterling Brown and Reggie Bullock were acquired through free agency to help the stagnant offense.

The biggest changes came off the court. After internal turmoil in the front office went public, Cuban cleaned house through a series of moves. The team hired former Nike executive Nico Harrison for the general manager position and legendary point guard Jason Kidd as the head coach. Time will tell if those bold moves are profound or ill-conceived.


Preseason performances do not always equate to regular season outcomes. However, the Mavericks went 4-0 in the preseason and looked good doing it. On the other hand, the Hawks went 2-2 after a slow start made worse by injuries.

Luckily, the Hawks are relatively healthy by their standards. Two players are questionable for tonight's game - Lou Williams (left hip soreness), and Danilo Gallinari (left shoulder soreness). Of course, Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder surgery rehabilitation) will be out until December or January. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will have their entire roster available with the exception of their two-way players, JaQuori McLaughlin and Eugene Omuruyi.

SI Sportsbook has the Hawks as 2.5 point favorites. I agree that the Hawks have the slight advantage of this game. It's a game they need to win since it's at home, and they are about to hit the ground running over the next two weeks.

Final Thoughts

Tonight is big for the Hawks. Not because it's a test of their talent or referendum on the offseason. Rather, it's a nationally-televised game and the latest installment of the Doncic/Young saga. The two All-Stars will forever be linked together following the blockbuster draft-night trade of 2018.

Hawks fans are excited, as they should be. They patiently waited through the rebuild, which successfully ended with the slew of major re-signings in recent months.

A few days ago, I gave my predictions for the team as well as individual players. This season will be historical for the franchise, and you will not want to miss a second of it. So stay locked into as we keep you updated with breaking news and analysis every step of the way.

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