March 11 feels like a lifetime ago. That’s when the Dallas Mavericks played their last game. It was subsequently the last game of the NBA season thanks to the rapid spread of COVID-19 among the league’s ranks. Now, professional basketball is on its way back. While the NBA is still working out all the details of restarting the 2019-20 season, some key dates are already in place.
First, the basics. When play resumes, only 22 teams will participate in the remainder of the season. The teams invited who are currently outside of the playoff picture are the New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards. All 22 teams will each play eight regular-season games before the playoffs begin. There’s a possibility that the No. 8 and 9 seeds in each conference have a play-in tournament to make the playoffs. All games will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Got it? Good.
Here are the dates you need to know.
July 7 – This is the day that teams travel to Disney. Luka Doncic will have to be back in the United States by this point, if he isn’t already. Most, if not all, teams will hold a training camp in their own practice facilities prior to departure. They’ll hold another one once they arrive. It’s uncertain whether the Brooklyn Nets or Pelicans will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine, per Florida regulation, when they arrive. The state requires it of people traveling from the Tri-State Area and Louisiana.
July 31 – Games resume. They’ll be weird, though. The arenas will be empty, broadcasters may be calling games from remote studios, and crowd noise from NBA 2K may be piped in. The crowd noise idea is a terrible one.
August 16-17 – If there is going to be a play-in tournament, this is when it will take place. Currently, the Mavericks have a seven-game advantage on the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies. It would take a feat of losing not seen since the Harrison Barnes-era for Dallas to fall into the tournament. Still, strange things may happen in Orlando with everyone shaking off the rust.
August 18 – Playoffs, baby! The NBA’s second season is upon us. For the Mavericks, it will mark their first return to the post-season after a three-year absence.
September 15 – Conference Finals begin. Hey, the Mavs could make it this far. That power forward who wasn’t as good as Dirk Nowitzki once said that anything is possible. Dallas just has to hope it doesn’t see the Los Angeles Clippers in either of the first two rounds.
September 30 – Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
October 12 – Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Will Dallas hoist its second Larry O’Brien Trophy?
Put these dates in your calendar and set your alert notification. We don’t who will broadcast the games yet, but a healthy portion will be seen on Fox Sports Southwest. The league is playing eight regular-season games to fulfill its contract with regional sports networks, after all.
There you have it. Mavericks basketball is coming back. Fire up your hot take tweets, break out the memes, and get ready for some Luka Magic.