Two years can go by in a blink.
Or, it can drag on like jail time.
These past 24 months have been a little of both. It was March 11, 2020, when the NBA and, for the most part, the world shut down.
Coronavirus won. The Mavericks played the last game before everything paused. They manhandled the Denver Nuggets and then, after Mark Cuban’s now-famous reaction to the third-quarter news that the season would be suspended, it all stopped.
Houston Rockets’ coach Stephen Silas was an assistant to Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle back then. And he remembers the weirdness of that night like it was yesterday.
And like it was a decade ago.
“Before the game, we had heard there was talk of this virus or whatever, but no chance that anything crazy would happen,” Silas said before the Mavericks visited the Rockets Friday night. “Then at halftime, we come out and during one of the timeouts someone comes up to the coaches’ huddle and says the season’s been paused.
“Mark Cuban was sitting on the side going: what is going on?”
What was going on was more than four months of no basketball. The league finally worked out a plausible way to finish the season in the bubble at Walt Disney World.
The Mavericks would make the playoffs that season for the first time since 2015-16, the last year Dirk Nowitzki would play in the postseason.
In the 2020 playoffs, Jason Kidd was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles lakers, who would win the championship in the bubble.
The Lakers had lost at home to Brooklyn on March 10, the night before the stoppage.
“It’s been two years? Wow,” Kidd said. “(I was) somewhere with LA, I suppose, but don’t know what I was doing. We were all uncertain of what was taking place and if we were going to have a season. The league did a great job of putting the bubble together and getting basketball back.”
And, the world as we knew it changed. Maybe not forever. But for a long, long time.
“So many different thoughts go through your head at that point,” Silas said. “It’s like: what is going on in the world right now?
“You’d never in a million years thought something like that would happen. And here we are two years later, still masked up. Still dealing with all of the coronavirus stuff. It’s changed a lot. It’s crazy.”
Resting Brunson, Finney-Smith: Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith sat out Friday’s game. Brunson had a thigh contusion and Finney-Smith had an arm issue.
But in reality, both had earned a night off.
“These guys played through COVID. They weren’t out,” Kidd said. “We ramped up their minutes, shortened the rotation.
“I said a couple days ago that we were going to look at playing more guys and try to take some minutes away from some of the guys who have been doing the heavy lifting. Dorian, he should be ready to go on Sunday, but he needs a break. He’s been doing it all for us all season.
“And JB, we got to get him a football suit. Guys are running into him. Knee-on-knee this last time. He’s been getting his foot stepped on. This is just a time for him to not get hit. Hopefully, he’s ready to go Sunday, too.”
Brunson has been idle for two of the last three games after playing 36 in a row.
Finney-Smith had missed only one game all season, Christmas at Utah.
Learning from failure: Silas is in his second season as Rockets’ head coach after two years on Carlisle’s staff.
He said he’s not surprised that the Mavericks have begun to play better defense under Jason Kidd.
It stems, he believes, from their playoff experiences of the last two seasons.
“When you go through playoff series like they’ve been through the last couple years, game 7 last year against the Clippers and the year before it was the Clippers again, you understand the defensive part is so, so important when it comes to being a successful playoff team,” Silas said. “To get the buy-in from the players is a little bit easier when you’ve had those playoff moments.
“And J-Kidd has come in and done a very good job as far as making sure these guys are playing defense and they’re such an active team. Having Dwight Powell in the middle, such a smart guy.”