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Mavs vs. Magic GAMEDAY: Rookie Jaden Hardy Starts Alongside Luka Doncic

The Dallas Mavericks will look to improve to 2-0 in preseason play on Friday night against the Orlando Magic. Luka Doncic is expected to play in what will be Dallas' only home preseason game … and he has a new starting shooting guard.

As much fun as Wednesday night's matchup between the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder in Tulsa was, Dallas' matchup with the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Center tonight should be even better when considering that Luka Doncic is expected to make his preseason debut.

After a grueling summer of hard workouts and physical EuroBasket play with the Slovenian national team, Doncic's was given a light workload to start training camp, which including missing Dallas' first preseason game. Barring an unforeseen change, we should get a look at the Mavs' official opening night starting lineup of Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith and JaVale McGee.

Many have speculated on coach Jason Kidd's decision to bring Christian Wood off the bench to start the season, but if Wednesday night's game was any indication, Wood will be fine in either role. In 25 minutes off the bench, Wood put up 16 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 7-13 from the field and 2-4 on 3s ... all while playing with a handful of guys that might not make the final roster. We should get a better feel for what Dallas' actual bench unit will look like on Friday night, as Wood will be playing alongside Maxi Kleber, who did not play in the first game.

WHAT TO WATCH – HARDY PARTY ENCORE?: How could it not be Jaden Hardy after what he pulled off in his Dallas debut? The 20-year-old rookie led the Mavs with 21 points on 8-16 shooting from the field and 4-9 from deep. He completely took over the fourth quarter by scoring 16 of Dallas' final 22 points in the 98-96 win. Kidd and Wood praised Hardy's performance, as well as his grown since Summer League, after the game.

Kidd was so impressed with Hardy that he has inserted him into the starting lineup next to Doncic for tonight’s game. We’ll see if the rookie is able to take this great opportunity and run with it.

Paolo Banchero was selected by Orlando with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Hardy, who was projected higher than Banchero in their 2021 recruiting class, fell to the No. 37 pick in the second round before ending up in Dallas. Consider us very intrigued with the Banchero vs. Hardy narrative tonight. It will be a fun one to monitor.

INJURY REPORT, DALLAS: Davis Bertans (right knee effusion)

PRESEASON RECORDS: Mavs (1-0), Magic (1-1)

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. CT

LOCATION: American Airlines Center (Dallas, TX)

TV/RADIO: Bally Sports Southwest (BSSW), NBA League Pass, 97.1 The Eagle (KEGL)

ODDS: The Mavs are 8.5-point favorites over the Magic. The O/U is 209.5.

NEXT UP: The Mavs will now get a full week off from playing any games. The next time they take the court will be on Friday, Oct. 14 when they take on the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena. That one will conclude Dallas' preseason play, then the next game will be the regular-season opener against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 19.

LAST WORD: “I like the way we started the game,” Kidd said of his team's effort while being undermanned. "Sometimes it better to get the turnovers out in preseason. We had 24 of them, which is a lot for us.

“I like the way that group ended the game. As much as we practice – and they compete in practice — everybody is competing to win. I thought that group at the end did a really, really good job.”

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