National Basketball Association
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                      === Hawks make a stop in Dallas ===
 (  -  The Atlanta  Hawks  will  visit the  Dallas  Mavericks
 Wednesday  night  as both teams  kick off the  2013-14 NBA season, albeit with
 several new pieces.
 The  Hawks were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference last season under the
 stewardship of Larry Drew. General Manager Danny Ferry canned Drew and brought
 in longtime Gregg Popovich disciple Mike Budenholzer to coach the squad.
 Also  gone was Hawks staple Josh Smith, a longtime fixture in NBA trade talks.
 Ferry  decided to let Smith and his massive talent and versatility, along with
 his maddening decision-making, bolt to the Detroit Pistons.
 To  replace Smith, Ferry brought in Paul Millsap, the hard-working, underrated
 forward  formerly of  the Utah  Jazz. The  other big  move for  the Hawks  was
 matching  the  Milwaukee Bucks'  offer sheet  on point  guard Jeff Teague, who
 really emerged as a solid young player last season.
 Al Horford is still the team's best player although he's still out of position
 playing  center. NBA veteran  Elton Brand was brought in to be the primary big
 man replacement.
 One  thing that will challenge the Hawks early in the season is the absence of
 Lou  Williams. The multi-talented Williams is still recovering from surgery to
 repair his torn ACL and his timetable for return is unknown.
 These  two  squads are  familiar  with  each  other.  The Hawks  closed  their
 preseason versus Dallas one week ago with the Mavs winning in Dallas 98-89.
 "It's  probably not  what either one of us wanted," said Budenholzer. "For our
 guys  who  actually got to  play, that  group was great.  The fact that it was
 against Dallas, maybe I guess could be a positive in a way."
 The Mavericks also sport quite a few new faces. Gone are Darren Collison, O.J.
 Mayo  and Chris  Kaman. Replacing  them in  the starting  lineup will  be Jose
 Calderon, Monta Ellis and Samuel Dalembert.
 Ellis  is  the biggest  fish  in  the  free-agent  frenzy, although  both  the
 Mavericks and Hawks had oodles of cap space this offseason. Both wanted Dwight
 Howard and Chris Paul.
 Both were disappointed.
 Ellis'  production, not  just in  Milwaukee  last season,  but throughout  his
 career,  is  not questioned. There have  been selfishness issues, but Ellis is
 actually a pretty solid distributor, especially among shooting guards.
 Dirk  Nowitzki is back and healthy, at least for the start of the campaign. He
 missed  time with a  knee injury at the outset of last season, never reclaimed
 his  scoring touch  and the Mavs missed  the playoffs for the first time since
 the 1999-2000 season.
 It  appeared to  wear on head coach  Rick Carlisle, although most of his venom
 appeared  directed  at Mayo.  Ellis and  Dalembert might  not help his already
 dwindling head of hair.
 "The  difference between  being where  you  want to  be and  not is  sometimes
 fractional,"  explained Carlisle.  "We've just got to stay the course and keep
 working.  I  believe in these  guys. I mean,  we've got enough experience, and
 we've just got to put it together and do the little things well."
 The  Hawks won two of their last three in Dallas, but the Mavs have taken four
 of the last six in the series.
 10/30 10:33:32 ET