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Mavs, Luka Say Time To Win Is Now

Luka Doncic raises his fist in celebration after making a basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a preseason game.
Tony Gutierrez/AP
The Mavericks are looking to capitalize on young superstar Luka Doncic with an even deeper run in this year's playoffs.

All three of Texas’s NBA teams tip off their seasons Wednesday night. And for the first time in years, expectations are highest for the Dallas Mavericks.

Luka Doncic established himself as one of the best players in basketball last season. He made the All-NBA first team while leading the Mavericks back to the playoffs after a three-year absence.

He and the Mavs take the court at 9:30 Wednesday night in Phoenix against the Suns. He'll do it as the Vegas betting favorite for Most Valuable Player.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said during the team's media day that his young star’s needle is still pointing up.

“Look, he’s 21. He’s getting better all the time. His game continues to be more and more refined each year in all areas,” Carlisle said.

Still, Doncic isn't shy about putting his goal out there.

"Like I always say, I want to win the championship — and that's the goal we entered with last year and that's the goal we're going to enter with this year as a whole group," he said at media day.

Last season the Mavs were, statistically speaking, the best offensive team in NBA history — but a first-round playoff loss to the Clippers showed defense was a glaring weakness.

That's why they traded for defensive stopper Josh Richardson. He’s one of five new players who could see regular action.

That meant the Mavs had to say goodbye to the last player remaining from the 2011 championship team, fan favorite J.J. Barea.

Optimism isn’t running as high in the state’s two other NBA outposts.

Last season, the San Antonio Spurs failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1997. They’ll begin the season in Memphis Wednesday against the Grizzlies.

Meanwhile the Houston Rockets are struggling to regroup. Former league MVP James Harden is seeking a trade.

The Rockets did pull off one of the league’s biggest trades in the off-season, sending Russell Westbrook to Washington for point guard John Wall.

The Rockets also replaced both their general manager and coach.
They open the season Wednesday against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Stephen Becker is executive producer of the "Think with Krys Boyd," which airs on more than 200 stations across the country. Prior to joining the Think team in 2013, as part of the Art&Seek team, Stephen produced radio and digital stories and hosted "The Big Screen" — a weekly radio segment about North Texas film — with Chris Vognar.