Barea Makes First On-Court Return To Dallas Tonight
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Wolves coach Terry Porter spent the first 10 years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers before leaving for Minnesota before the 1994-95 season, and when he came back to play in Portland for the first time as an opponent it was a special moment for him.
The Blazers had moved into a new building, erasing the nostalgia of the venue itself, but the people, the colors and the memories were still there.
Tonight, Wolves guard J.J. Barea will get his first chance to feel all of the above. For the first time since leaving Dallas after the 2010-11 season, Barea will play against the Mavericks at American Airlines Center when the two teams tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
It’s a memorable location for Barea, who helped the Mavs to 50-plus wins in each of his five season in Dallas as well as earning a 2010-11 NBA championship ring.
Tonight is the first game he’s played at AAC since Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals—a 112-103 win over the Miami Heat that gave Dallas a 3-2 series lead. No question, the Mavericks and their fans have mutual appreciation for Barea. Their on-court host made a point to mention his return and shared admiration for Barea during his pregame routine with the fans.
“This is where everything started for me,” said Barea, who blocked off about 15 seats for tonight’s game for family and friends still in the area. “I have a special place in my heart for this place, and it’s good to be back.
It’s not his first time back all together; Barea was injured when the Wolves visited for one game last season, and he returned in street clothes to accept his NBA championship ring with the rest of the Mavs.
This time around, he’s in uniform and moments ago he took the court for the first time in Minnesota gear for warm-ups.
In his last game at AAC, Barea put up 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, connected on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range and added five assists. Five of his seven double-digit scoring performances in the 2010-11 playoffs came in Dallas.
Since then, the Mavs have re-vamped their lineup and essentially two regulars—Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion—are still on the roster from that championship team. Barea said he was a little surprised just how much they’ve changed things up in just a year and a half.
“I knew they were trying to go a different way, but I’m surprised that they went this way,” Barea said. “It changed completely a lot.”
Porter said Barea is always pumped to play, but he might have a little extra excitement for this one tonight.
“It’s still a special place for him obviously, so I’m sure he likes coming back to this building,” Porter said. “It brings a lot of fond memories, and he wants to play well when he comes back.”
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