Mavs Re-Boot Practice Review: The Projected Starting 5

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - On Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks reconvened at team headquarters for the first post-hiatus full-squad workout in preparation for their July 8 transfer to Orlando and the NBA "bubble.''

"The tone in our gym is very positive, great energy,'' coach Rick Carlisle said via a DFW media Zoom call following the workout. "The guys have worked extremely hard."

"The guys'' might very well begin with a starting five of Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry and Kristaps Porzingis, said GM Donnie Nelson during the Zoom session.

But as Carlisle pointed out, the team isn't yet putting five guys on the floor at the same time. Indeed, there aren't even 1-on-1's yet, though on Wednesday two players were for the first time allowed to shoot at the same basket together.

Soon, though - on July 8 - the Mavs will travel to Orlando. And before they get to the eight-game "seeding'' meetings to close the regular season, they could have as many as three "preseason scrimmages'' against other teams.

"It is,'' Carlisle said, "a unique and one-of-a-kind - hopefully - opportunity.’

"Hopefully'' one-of-a-kind, of course, because nobody wishes to re-live basketball (or anything else) in a COVID-19 time. Eventually, the entire crew will be on the floor (minus Dwight Powell, Courtney Lee and Jalen Brunson, who will travel to Florida but not play due to injuries), including newcomer Trey Burke (now officially in for Willie Cauley-Stein).

The eight "seeding games for Dallas will begin with Game 1 against the Houston Rockets on the second day of play in Orlando, on July 31. (Full schedule analysis here.)

There will be no home-court edge. No fans energy. No smoothness to the players' "body clocks'' when it comes to the rhythm of a season.

Nelson put it colorfully when he said of the players entering the unknown, "It's a 'sailor's existence.''

That goes for the entire 35-person traveling party as well. Carlisle said he's been back in the gym for a week and has already undergone five COVID-19 tests. That's one important issue; another is the civil-rights movement, which Carlisle said he and owner Mark Cuban are "100 percent supportive of.'' (Indeed, Carlisle is helping to lead an NBA coaches group in conjunction with the movement. Read here.)

By mid-August, the 16-team playoffs will be formed and will begin, and there might be a sense of semi-normalcy there, as at least the familiar 1-vs.-8, best-of-seven format will be used. The Mavs are presently in the No. 7 spot in the West, with a chance to rise.

“Never before have we gone through something like this in the NBA,'' Carlisle said. "Some people might look at it with trepidation. I look at it with excitement.”

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