It’s been 281 days since the last time the Dallas Mavericks played a home game, and Mark Cuban’s viral reaction to the NBA shutting down the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. Thursday night, that time away will come to an end, when the Mavs return to the AAC for a preseason game, with no fans allowed at the game, trying to do everything they can off the court to keep the 2021 season alive.
“You want to do things that won’t put you in harm's way or put others in harm's way,” Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson said. “Obviously wear your mask, watch your hands, do all the little things that keep you safe. I’m just doing everything I can to be in a position to be on the court.”
The Mavs are doing what they can to be on the court in a shortened preseason, with limited time to prepare for when the games that count begin next Wednesday.
“This is a meteoric sort of thing, having just three exhibition games and a bit of a truncated training camp,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “We’re having to do a lot of things with fluidity and on the fly. We have probably five practice days, but it’s going to be here quick. So we’re working on a lot of things.”
Working on a lot of things before beginning a Mavs season that has high expectations, with Dallas as the favorites to win their division, and the teams’ best player, Luka Doncic, favored to win the NBA MVP award and already seeing signs in the preseason that this could be a special year.
“Obviously we’ve been playing together in practice, but those two games, to go out and play the way we did showed this group could be special,” said Brunson. “I’m very excited about what we have. We just have to keep it together and keep it going.”
Keep it going, beginning with the first Mavs basketball game in the American Airlines Center in 281 days when Dallas hosts Minnesota Thursday night.