Some things are more important than basketball and the Denver team that takes the court tonight at AAC will be struggling in more ways than one. They'll be missing their sideline general, George Karl.
Karl is fighting throat cancer and is still taking chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
It's possible he could rejoin the team by the playoffs. But at this point, basketball is not the most important thing in his life.
"I know it's difficult,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "I know he's going through a lot. You hear things about him possibly having setbacks. I have not talked to him. I've sent text messages. Our staff, guys who are close to him, they've reached out. But with what he's going through, I can understand how it's difficult to stay in touch.''
And seeing a member of the NBA coaching fraternity struggling against an unforgiving disease is tough.
"No question,'' Carlisle said. "A couple weeks ago, we had the Hoops for St. Jude fundraiser which was in support of George and St. Jude's Hospital. He's in everybody's thoughts and we all wish him the best.''
On the court tonight, the Mavericks hope to find out more about how their new team stacks up against one of the Western Conference's best.
Since acquiring Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, the Mavericks hope they are more prepared to handle a strong team like Denver.
"We've become a more physical team since the trade,'' Carlisle said. "So I think we match up better with them than we have in the past. But physical match-ups are no guarantee of great play. You got to go out there and do the things you need to do.
"We feel like we're better, but until you do it in the games, that's where the proving ground is.''