This time, Mavs-Nuggets a much different vibe

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This time, Mavs-Nuggets a much different vibe

A year ago, the Dallas Mavericks hosted the Denver Nuggets on a night that was notable for the circumstances surrounding the game.

It was March 11, the night the Utah-Oklahoma City game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test with Utah's Rudy Gobert, and as Dallas and Denver played, the NBA announced the season would be postponed at the end of that evening's games.

The Mavs and Nuggets seemed to go through the motions in Dallas' win, and it would be months before the season resumed in the Orlando bubble.

"It's a profound thought to think that it was a year ago," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Thursday night. "Somehow or other time has flown by incredibly fast. There have been a myriad of world events that have shaped everything for our society. Everything from pandemic to social justice to a lot of other dynamic things going on in the world."

On Saturday, the two teams will meet again for the third and final time this season under different circumstances. The season is going strong through the coronavirus pandemic despite some postponements, and playoff seedings are becoming important for the last half of the 72-game season.

Dallas opened its post-All Star schedule with a win against San Antonio on Wednesday and then lost at Oklahoma City on Thursday, with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sitting out for rest against the Thunder.

Carlisle said he is planning on resting his stars throughout the remainder of the season.

"There will be more of these along the way," he said, adding that the "high density of games" is behind the thinking. The Mavericks play 38 games in 67 days in the second half of the season.

The Nuggets held on to beat Memphis 103-102 on the road Friday night in their first game since the All-Star break. The time off helped Denver get a little healthier, although several players remain out of the lineup. Paul Millsap returned after missing 10 games with a knee sprain and Facundo Campazzo cleared health protocols.

Millsap came off the bench Friday and finished with 11 points in 22 minutes.

Gary Harris (adductor strain), R.J. Hampton (health and safety protocols) and JaMychal Green (shoulder injury) remain sidelined.

The Nuggets have won five straight games, all on the road. Now the task is integrating the returning players and keeping their momentum going.

"The challenge now is to try and find that rhythm that we had going into that break and come out with the same type of rhythm," coach Michael Malone said Thursday. "We have a group that is playing really well at a high level right now on both ends of the floor, and when we get guys back available we'll work them back into the rotation."

Denver and Dallas split their first two meetings this season, with each team winning on the road. Both teams have played well lately, with the Mavericks having won 10 of their past 13 games and the Nuggets riding their five-game winning streak.

--Field Level Media