For the Dallas Mavericks, Friday night’s first game of the NBA relaunch in the Orland "bubble" can’t come soon enough.
“It’s been a long time coming, close to five months,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. “A lot of anticipation.”
Anticipation and exactly 142 days since the Mavs last played a game, as they will take the court at 8 p.m. against the Houston Rockets – one of eight regular-season games each team will play before the NBA playoffs begin August 17th – a restart to the season that has taken an incredible amount of work by the league.
“There’s been more than a few times when I’ve encountered an NBA executive, Mavericks player or someone who works for the Mavericks and we’ve said, 'Wow, how did we get from there to here,'” said Dallas Morning News reporter Brad Townsend, who is in the NBA bubble in Orlando.
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From there to here, with expectations that before their game begins, the Mavs will take a social justice stance by taking a knee during the national anthem – which is what all four NBA teams that played Thursday night did before their seasons began.
“Rick Carlisle was asked about that after practice yesterday, and he said they’re still discussing it, and he said whatever they do they will do together,” Townsend said. “The two teams, the Rockets and Mavs, players, coaches and staff members, it will be a collective statement.”
A collective statement before the game, and hopeful to make a statement once the ball is in the air, with the Mavs understanding the value of every game in the bubble is magnified.
“This isn’t like the beginning of an 82 game season where there’s a tendency of everybody easing into it,” Carlisle said. “Every game has high meaning.”