The Mavericks will finish the first half of the regular season Wednesday night against the Thunder and then enter the All-Star break with plenty of in-house questions:
How concerning is Kristaps Porzingis’ lengthening injury history? What moves are best ahead of the late-March trade deadline? Will the defensive focus from the offseason soon manifest into consistent production?
Look at the macro level at the midpoint, and the NBA faces a major uncertainty, too:
After the league postponed 31 first-half games because of COVID-19 issues while playing without a bubble, will the 2020-21 regular season require an asterisk for competitive fairness?
The Mavericks may be the organizational poster child for first-half inequity.
Dallas leads the NBA in player games missed due to COVID-19 protocols (41 games between five Mavericks) but ranks in the bottom half of the league with just one virus-related postponement.
While outcomes in the early weeks of a season don’t often correlate directly to playoff fate, the timing, breadth and the NBA’s approach to the Mavericks’ January COVID-19 outbreak perpetuated shortcomings that could hamper Dallas’ postseason push in the coming months.
“We’re coming up on almost a year since the hiatus hit last March 11,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s been a lot of adjusting. There’s been a lot of pivoting. Everyone’s had to be light on their feet. But really, you know, you haven’t heard an exorbitant amount of bitching and complaining in the NBA, and it’s…