The Mavericks are on pace to end their three-year postseason drought, and if everything goes right, might be able to pull off their first playoff series win since capturing the championship in 2011. All of that starts with their young star point guard, Luka Doncic, who will be completely rested and healed from the nagging thumb and ankle injuries he was dealing with prior to the hiatus. Dallas will be heading into Orlando down a few significant pieces, as Dwight Powell is still rehabbing from a torn ACL and Jalen Brunson underwent shoulder surgery in March. The Mavs will also be without Courtney Lee due to a calf injury, as well as Willie Cauley-Stein who opted out of the season as he was expecting the birth of his child.
However, despite those absences, the Mavericks still have a quality roster to make some noise at Disney World. If Doncic continues his superstar play, and Porzingis can build on the success he had in March, Dallas could make life difficult for some of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Here's a look at the Mavericks' roster, schedule and some key storylines for when the season resumes in Orlando on July 30.
- Luka Doncic
- J.J. Barea
- Seth Curry
- Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Delon Wright
- Trey Burke (signed during transaction window)
- Josh Reaves (two-way player)
- Antonius Cleveland (two-way player)
Players sitting out: Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson, Courtney Lee, Willie Cauley-Stein
All games Eastern Standard time
July 31: vs. Houston Rockets at 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Aug. 2: vs. Phoenix Suns at 8 p.m.
Aug. 4: vs. Sacramento Kings at 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: vs. Los Angeles Clippers at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
Aug. 8: vs. Milwaukee Bucks at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Aug. 10: vs. Utah Jazz at 2 p.m. (NBATV)
Aug. 11: vs. Portland Trail Blazers at 4 p.m.
Aug. 13: vs. Phoenix Suns (TBD)
Can Doncic and Porzingis rediscover their chemistry: The success of Doncic and Porzingis in the bubble will determine how far the Mavericks go. Individually, they've both had their shining moments this season, now this star pairing needs to figure out how to coexist consistently. Injuries slowed their ability to build chemistry early on in the year, but right before the pandemic postponed the season, the two were starting to blossom. Their pick-and-roll game was a consistent threat on offense, and Porzingis specifically was beginning to look like an All-Star again. The four months off gave them both the time to heal from injuries and rest up. If they can pick up where they left off in March and progress from there, Dallas could be a sneaky dark horse team in the postseason.
Tim Hardaway's career year: Hardaway has been a surprising bright spot for the Mavericks this season. He's shooting a career-high 40.7 from 3-point range, and has become one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league. All of this is leading up to a player option he has at the end of this season, which, depending on the future of the league, he could very well utilize and become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Hardaway has proven that he can be a crucial piece for the Mavericks in the short term, but Dallas will have to decide if it wants to offer up a long-term contract to the former Michigan standout in the same summer that Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent. These aren't decisions that need to be made in the immediate future, but Hardaway's earned a sizable contract with his play this season, it's just unclear if the Mavericks will be willing to pay up.
Moving up the standings: Dallas has a pretty evenly balanced seeding schedule in Orlando, with half of its games coming against teams with losing records, and the other half coming against playoff-bound teams. The Mavericks are in a position to use their favorable schedule to move up the standings from the current No. 7 spot they occupy. Only 1 1/2 games separate Dallas, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and if Doncic and the Mavs want a shot to pull off an upset in the postseason, it would be beneficial for them to avoid playing either Los Angeles team in the first round. They have the schedule to pull that off, now it's just up to Doncic, Porzingis, Hardaway and the rest of this roster to pick up wins.