=== Hawks make a stop in Dallas ===
(SportsNetwork.com) - 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
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