DALLAS - Home sweet home! It has been 280 days since the Dallas Mavericks last played in the friendly confines of American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Mavs will host the Minnesota Timberwolves in their only home preseason matchup tonight ... and DallasBasketball.com will be there.
After winning their first two preseason games vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, the Mavs look for a third victory to finish out their preseason schedule. The Mavericks are not allowing fans in the arena for the game but are hopeful that may change during regular season.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to welcome fans back to AAC this season but want to make sure we do so in the safest way possible,” Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall said in a statement last Friday.
The Mavs will get one of the first looks at the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, Minnesota's Anthony Edwards. Edwards, who stands at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, gives Minnesota an athletic scorer that doubles as a solid defender.
Minnesota’s duo of D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns will be a great test for Dallas’ new defenders. They have only played one regular-season game together but the pair combined for 45 points and 12 assists in a loss to the Toronto Raptors before COVID-19 and injuries limited their playing time. The Timberwolves are looking for their second NBA playoff appearance in the past 16 seasons this year, so games vs. division foe Dallas will be uber-important. This preseason battle could be a sneak peak of what is to come in the regular season.
And for the Mavs? The chemistry between Luka Doncic and newcomer Josh Richardson already seems special. We'll look for that while coach Rick Carlisle continues to juggle with the idea of "hockey line changes'' along the way.
“This is a meteoric sort of thing,” Rick said of the COVID-pushed acceleration to a regular season that for Dallas starts on Dec. 23 at Phoenix. “We’re having to do a lot of things with fluidity and on the fly.”
The last time the Mavs played at home was a momentous day that many will not soon forget. The NBA officially postponed its season after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tased positive for COVID-19. The news broke in the middle of the Dallas game and owner Mark Cuban delivered a calm and composed sideline interview after his jaw dropped at the notification.
Courtney Lee, who has been quarantined since signing with Dallas last Friday, should be able to join the team later this week. Lee may be able to play vs. the Timberwolves if he clears medical protocols.
WHEN: Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 at 7 p.m. CT
LOCATION: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports Southwest, ESPN 103.3 Radio
THE FINAL WORD
“This is probably one of the closest teams I’ve been on in my time in the NBA,'' Recently added Josh Richardson said. "And I’ve been on some good teams.”