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142 days after COVID-19 paused NBA season, Dallas Mavericks resume playoff push Friday night

Luka Doncic and the Mavs will face James Harden and the Rockets from the NBA "bubble" in Orlando.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77) and the rest of the bench celebrate a three-pointer by Justin Jackson against the Minnesota Timberwolves in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

ORLANDO, Fla. — One hundred forty-two days.

It's been 142 days since the Dallas Mavericks walked off the court of the American Airlines Center.

The NBA offseason -- from the last day of the 2019 NBA Finals to the start of the 2019-2020 season -- lasted 131 days.

This hiatus has been the longest period without Mavericks basketball since the NBA Lockout in 2011.

March 11, 2020, was the night everything changed.

The Mavericks tipped-off against the Denver Nuggets in Dallas. Meanwhile, 200 miles north in Oklahoma City, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jazz-Thunder game was canceled. The news spread south to the AAC.

You may recall the reaction of Mavs owner Mark Cuban when he found out.

The Mavs defeated the Nuggets, 113-97, thanks to a career-high 31 points from Boban Marjanovic.

After the game, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said, "There's no timetable."

Now, 142 days later, the Mavericks are one of 22 teams in Orlando for the restart of the NBA season.

(By "Orlando," we mean the NBA "bubble" at the Walt Disney World resort.)

Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis was not on the court for Dallas on Sunday after missing his daily COVID-19 test on Saturday. The 24-year-old forgot to go to his designated site for his daily test on Saturday, and in turn must quarantine until another one of his tests comes back negative.

On Friday night, All-Star Luka Doncic and the Mavs play James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first of eight games to finish the regular season.

While the game is the same, the atmosphere is not. Like nearly all sporting events across America, there will be no fans in the crowd to witness "Luka Magic."

In her first American TV interview, Luka's mother talks with WFAA's Jonah Javad about motherhood, the journey from Slovenia to Dallas and his future with the Mavs. DALLAS - Twenty minutes until the 2020 NBA All-Star Game tip-off in Chicago, Mirjam Poterbin weaved through the bustling concourse level, as NBA fans and pop culture celebrities passed by.

"It's going to be worse for sure," the 21-year-old phenom said regarding the absence of fans. "I enjoy the fans very much. It's going to be weird, so I don't know how I'm going to feel."

Luka better feel it quickly because the results of those eight games will determine where the Mavericks end up in the playoff standings. They're currently seventh, but they're only four games back of third.

Four months after joining Jordan Brand, the NBA All-Star has his own signature shoe, called the Air Jordan 1 Mid: Mindfulness. DALLAS - Jordan released Luka Doncic's debut sneaker "Air Jordan 1 Mid: Mindfulness" on Thursday at 9 a.m. The shoes sold out in 30 minutes.

"Our mindset is that we are a dangerous team," asserted Mavs forward Kristaps Porzingis. "I think we can surprise people."

KP has a point.

The Mavs most important players are healthy, rested and they're in their early 20's.

Perhaps, the fountain of youth will make their Disney dreams come true.

The bubble is a small world after all.

So, the guys have been staying loose by playing pickleball, bowling and fishing.

It's like a sleep-away camp... for very tall people.

"This is an extraordinary endeavor," admitted Carlisle. "No one has ever done what we're going to do, or attempt to do, as a league in Orlando. We're looking forward to it. It truly is historic." 

142 days since the Mavericks walked off the court.

Less than 24 hours until they take their next step.