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5 things to look for in the Mavs season opener

Luka Doncic runs up the court in his Mavericks white uniform in a game
Associated Press
FR171389 AP
Mavericks point guard Luka Donic says he's excited to learn from new coach Jason Kidd this season.

When the Dallas Mavericks tip-off the new season tonight in Atlanta against the Hawks, most of the faces on the court will be familiar. There is, however, a lot that's new about this year's team — here are five things to look out for tonight:

A NEW COACH: Jason Kidd was drafted by the Mavs in 1994, won a title with the team in 2011 and now replaces Rick Carlisle as the team's head coach. Kidd was a stellar defensive player and says he plans to emphasize defense to his team, which has succeeded in recent years largely based on its offensive firepower.

HELP FROM THE WNBA: Joining Kidd on the bench is new assistant coach Kristi Toliver. She's the 15th woman to coach in the NBA and is still an active player for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

STARS ALIGNING: Much has been made about whether chemistry can be created between the team's two biggest stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Their interactions on the court — down to how often they high five — will be tightly monitored.

A QUICK START: Speaking of Doncic, he led Slovenia to the semifinals of this summer's Tokyo Olympics and dropped 48 points on Argentina in the tournament opener — the third most in a game in Olympic history. That short offseason could catch up to him later, but he should start the year already in midseason form.

WELCOME, REGGIE: The Mavs' starting five will look very familiar to last year's lineup — the one exception being Dwight Powell at center. The biggest addition of the off-season is Reggie Bullock, who the team acquired from the New York Knicks. Bullock is an excellent defender who, along with Dorian Finney-Smith, will often be matched up against the opponents' best offensive player. And Bullock has made 39% of his three-point shots over his career — important for a team that hoisted more than 38 three-pointers per game last season, sixth most in the league.

Tonight's game tips off at 6:30 on TNT.

Stephen Becker is senior producer of the Think show , which airs on more than 25 stations across Texas and beyond. 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. His 2011 story about the history of eight-track tapes was featured nationally on NPR's All Things Considered. His works has been recognized with numerous state and national awards.