Mavs Sunday Donuts: ‘Nothing Feels Normal’ – Sports Illustrated

The Dallas Mavericks are in the Orlando Bubble and making adjustments on the fly. Under coach Rick Carlisle, they seem to be adjusting quickly and having some bonding fun doing so … but as Maxi Kleber admits, “Nothing feels normal.” Mavs Sunday Donuts …

DONUT 1: ‘NOTHING FEELS NORMAL’ This wasn’t registered as a complaint by the Mavs backup center – just a statement of fact.

“To be honest,” Kleber said following Friday’s first working in Orlando, “nothing really feels normal right now.”

DONUT 2: BALLROOM BUBBLE BANK SHOT The makeshift gym at the Coronado Ballroom inside the Grand Floridian hotel, however, will have to do, even with lighting that probably needs to be beefed up, and a ceiling low enough for Luke Doncic to nail a trick shot – let’s call it a “Ballroom Bubble Bank Shot” – by utilizing it. 

(See here for more on Luka being “contagious” in this regard.)

But all in all, if you want closeness with your Mavericks buddies? A 48-hour quarantine period and then life together inside a hotel is probably as “normal” a way as there is to achieve that in this COVID-19 time.

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Oh, and it’s also “normal” now for Luka to perform a daily trick shot. Check out his “footwork” here.

DONUT 3: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF IT ALL The Mavs practiced Friday afternoon for almost three hours and were at it again on Saturday.  (Here’s the Saturday practice report, featuring JJ Barea offering playoff “mindset” guidance to Doncic. … Also, they’ll work out Sunday as well, and we’ll have a full report on Sunday night).

Practice, of any sort, represented “normalcy” of some sort.

“It’s great to be back in the gym,” coach Rick Carlisle said, pumping out positivity as has been his recent custom. “Everybody misses the smell of the gym. It’s one of the really special things about any sport.”

That smell … Yup. It’s missed. By us, too.

DONUT 4: SUPPLY AND DEMAND The Mavericks used the Dallas Cowboys’ moving company to haul stuff to Orlando. Most of that was weight-room equipment and basketball-related stuff, of course. But also on the trip: Seth Curry brought video games and his golf clubs. Dwight Powell, injured and unable to play, nevertheless organized and edited the Mavs music video …

And seems to be in charge of coffee.

Carlisle brought his own gym equipment, including an exercise bike, and set it up in his room. The piano-playing coach also brought a keyboard.

“The first days, we had to stay in our room,” Kleber said. “We’ll see the next couple days if we can go fishing, play golf, stuff like that. But it’s OK. The first two days were a little bit boring because you couldn’t leave the room.”

But now? Basketball.

DONUT 5: THE SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE In addition to its practices, the Mavs will engage in a trio of scrimmages: Dallas is to work with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, July 23, will work with the Indiana Pacers on July 26, and will get a final tune-up against the Philadelphia Sixers on July 28.

DONUT 6: THE SEEDING SCHEDULE Then come the real games. That schedule:

At 40-27, the Mavs had built something before the hiatus. In our exclusive visit this week with Carlisle, he pinpointed a desire to build even higher.

“Our goal,” he said, it to move up.”

Read that visit with Rick here.

DONUT 7: QUOTABLE “During the season, you kind of take for granted being around your guys all year. Every day, you’re around them at the gym, on the road, on the bus. And not seeing them for three or four months is a little weird. I think whichever team picks up that camaraderie and that team chemistry where they left off the quickest, is going to have the advantage.” – Seth Curry.

DONUT 8: THE ‘RAMP-UP’ The Mavericks have some time to get right here, as the first real game remains more than two weeks away.

“We’re calling this a ramp-up,” Carlisle said. “We’re starting from Day One. We’ve carefully planned the first three days. Part of this is taking a gauge as to where our guys are physically. … A lot of it is getting back to doing movements that are NBA, full-bore movements. We’re beginning the process of full-fledged, full-court conditioning and then of course reviewing things that are necessary for us to review in terms of our strategy and how we play offensively and defensively.”

In other words, it’s “Training Camp 2.0.”

DONUT 9: HOTEL MOJO The Mavs are staying at the Grand Floridian Resort at Disney World, and Carlisle once again this weekend brought up the good luck that this place represents. It was here, in 2008, when he was vacationing with wife Donna and young daughter Abby that he got a call to interview with the Mavs for the newly-vacant head coaching job. (More on that here.)

Since then, Carlisle has won a title and become an institution here. Oh, and Rick tells me, Abby just got her driver’s license.

DONUT 10: SOCIAL JUSTICE Carlisle is going to open each of his almost-daily Zoom conference calls with the media with a statement about racial injustice from the past. The statement will reflect on tragic race-related incidents in our country’s past.

“What you’re going to hear is that there’s something like this every single day, 365 days a year,” he said. “It’s something we have to reckon with, talk about and try to heal from.”

Read here about the NBA Coaches Association plan in this regard. Read here for what the Mavs players will wear on their jerseys in the place of surnames (“EQUALITY”) once games begin.

DONUT 11: RECRUITING SEASON Yes, we’ve gone ahead and said it: The Mavs should spend part of their time while in Orlando – Mark Cuban and Luka Doncic and all of them – playing Ping-Pong and sipping coffee and hobnobbing with people outside their own 35-person traveling party.

People like stars on other teams. The Mavs Step Back Podcast digs in, above.

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD “This could go down as one of the unique events in sports history. … I want to breathe in the uniqueness of this experience.” – Rick Carlisle.