Dallas Mavericks learn they “can’t relax” – the hard way

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Lessons learned the hard way have a way of sinking in a little better. From the time we’re a wee child, reaching up to touch the stove top, to the time we’re a grown adult, thinking we can totally still do the worm on the dance floor, sometimes we have get hurt to learn our lesson. The Dallas Mavericks achieved that in Game One of the new season.

For Mavs fans, the most satisfying moment of the 2021-22 season was, unquestionably, coming back from 0-2 against the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the playoffs. The painfully smug Suns had their way with the Dallas Mavericks early in the series, laughter and shade oozed from their bench, serving as salt in the proverbial wound.

When the Mavs were able to flip the script and dispatch the No. 1 seed in convincing fashion, Mavs Nation were on cloud nine. They upset their most hated rival on the biggest stage. It was poetry, redemption, and revenge all in one pretty postseason package.

So, when the 2022-23 season started off at the scene of the crime, fans and players immediately harkened back to the emotions of the summer. Powering out to a 22-point lead, it was impossible not to feel those feels.

The Dallas Mavericks learned a harsh lesson in their season opener that will hopefully benefit them down the road

But this time the two teams were cast is opposite roles. The Dallas Mavericks played the part of the arrogant favorite, while the Suns played the part of the underestimated challenger. Peruse the Mavs twitter timeline and you’ll see how MFFL’s smirks turned to tears over the course of the second half. How the Mavs took their foot off the gas and let a very talented opponent take revenge for last season’s battle.

In Luka Doncic’s own words, “We relaxed a little bit.”

The Mavs did indeed, getting outscored 31-19 in the third quarter. Dallas shot just 62% from the charity stripe, a poor number for a high school team, let alone an NBA franchise. It wasted an otherwise brilliant performance from Luka, who scored 35 points, six assists, and nine rebounds. And started the Mavs in a 0-1 hole to start the new season.

The lesson was a tough one to learn. Of all teams…of all ways…

But that’s also what will make it so effective. This type of pain isn’t forgotten so easily. It may only be the first of 82 games this season, but this one stings more than just any old one-off. The Mavs wanted it but didn’t have the killer instinct to make it happen. They learned pretty quickly “wanting” isn’t enough.

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With any luck, this extreme negative will go down as a pivotal positive on their new season. They learned a lesson from the jump – and they learned it the hard way.