The coronavirus pandemic and sporadic NBA restart prompted roster changes for several teams. The Brooklyn Nets are the biggest victims here, with the meat of their roster falling to injury or COVID-19.
The Dallas Mavericks faced the challenge of replacing Dwight Powell, Courtney Lee, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Jalen Brunson.
Brunson was a key part of the Mavs’ rotation this season. In 57 appearances, he averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury against the Atlanta Hawks on February 22.
The Mavs scrounged the market and found a familiar face in point guard Trey Burke. The Michigan Wolverine and 2013 College Player of the Year, who played in Dallas during the second half of the 2018-19 season, made a splash in his NBA bubble debut.
Trey Burke Re-Joins Dallas Mavericks
The 27-year-old previously had stints with the Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, and New York Knicks before being packaged in the blockbuster trade for All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis last season. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent in July 2019. The Sixers waived the 2014 All-NBA Rookie first team player on February 6, 2020. He signed with the Mavericks on July 1.
In 29:57 of action, he tallied 31 points on 11 for 16 from the field—including a scorching 8 for 10 from downtown. He kept Dallas in the game by nailing shots on crucial possessions.
The turning point came with 3.3 seconds left when the Mavs were up 139-136 and James Harden stepped to the free-throw line for two shots. He hit the first one. The second shot graced the rim and hung on long enough for forward Robert Covington to swim beneath the hoop and tip it in. The game went to overtime, but the Mavs were deflated.
Houston won by a final score of 153-149. Harden exploded for 49 points. Russell Westbrook added 31.
Despite the loss, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle sang Burke’s praises after the game:
“He’s a very good player; a terrific scorer. I was thrilled when we were able to get him back. He’s worked, kept himself in great shape, only had a couple of live practices and one scrimmage. What he did was terrific. Right now it’s about who’s ready to play. Who can help us. He was terrific and he gave us a lot of juice the whole game.”
The Mavs officially clinched a playoff spot with the Memphis Grizzlies’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs on August 2, per NBA.com. It’s the franchise’s first playoff birth since 2016.
Dallas lost their second seeding game to the Phoenix Suns 117-115 on August 2. On August 4, they bested the Sacramento Kings 114-110 in overtime. The Mavericks continue their seeding games against the Los Angeles Clippers on August 6 and Milwaukee Bucks on August 8 on ESPN.
Burke’s stellar performance wasn’t enough to grab the opening win. However, it showed his smooth fit in the Mavericks’ high-powered offense.