Porzingis brings new blood as Mavs open vs. Wizards

Field Level Media

October 23, 2019 at 12:03 am.

Kristaps Porzingis will make his Dallas debut when the Mavericks host the Washington Wizards in the season opener for both teams on Wednesday night.

Porzingis, who missed last season while recovering from an ACL injury, averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 2017-18 for the New York Knicks and will be looking to help the Mavericks end a three-year playoff drought.

The Mavericks also added guards Delon Wright and Seth Curry, who returns to Dallas after spending last season with the Portland Trail Blazers and will look to make defenses pay for focusing on Porzingis and Luka Doncic, the NBA’s Rookie of the Year last season.

“I don’t think guys will ever leave me wide open, but hopefully I can create space for those guys by my presence out there,” Curry told the team’s website. “Obviously, they’re going to have the ball a lot, and they’re both willing and great passers.”

One way the Mavericks can improve their postseason chances is with a better opening month. Their last three season starts have been 2-7, 1-10 and 2-13.

“We’ve got to be a fast-start team, start off fast and then take it from there,” guard J.J. Barea told the Dallas Morning News. “The first five games are going to be huge. That little thing right there, get a little confidence in the beginning, I think is going to carry us a long way.”

Dallas will likely open its 40th season without projected starting center Dwight Powell, who strained his left hamstring on Oct. 5 and has not gone through a full practice since.

“It’s getting there,” Powell told reporters on Monday. “Don’t want to rush anything too quickly. We want to make sure that when I come back, I can compete at the highest level possible.”

Washington opens the season with a lot of new faces, including having someone other than John Wall in the point guard spot for the first time in nine seasons.

The Wizards signed veteran Isaiah Thomas, 30, to a one-year minimum deal in July to fill the spot until Wall’s return from an Achilles injury.

Though Thomas’ recovery from left thumb surgery is progressing quickly, he may not be ready to start on opening night, meaning Ish Smith would be in the backcourt with Bradley Beal. Thomas completed his first full practice on Sunday and is making coach Scott Brooks’ decision about the opener a difficult one.

“The last couple of days he’s been catching the ball with no problems,” Brooks said Sunday. “He’s played in some practice the last [week], but today he went the entirety. We’re going to make that decision on what’s best for him long term. I’d love to have him for the first game, but we’ll see. Probably not, but we’ll see.”

The Wizards are also expected the be without small forward Troy Brown Jr. (calf injury) Wednesday night.

Beal signed a contract extension during the preseason that will keep him in Washington at least through the 2021-22 season.

“This is where I’ve been for the last seven years, going on eight, and I have an opportunity to turn this thing around,” Beal said of opting to stay for the Wizards rebuild.

Last season, the two-time All-Star became the first player in franchise history to average at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. He averaged 26.7 points per game after the All-Star break.

The Wizards’ starting lineup against the Mavericks is also likely to include 22-year-old center Thomas Bryant, the team’s second-leading scorer (18.2 points per game) behind Beal last season, and rookie power forward Rui Hachimura.

Washington, which opens with three road games in four nights, hasn’t won in Dallas since 2009.