Climbing up the conference standings ladder won’t be easy, but with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, it’s possible.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 11, 2021
The Dallas Mavericks beat the San Antonio Spurs 115-104 on Wednesday night. The box score suggests it was a pretty average NBA regular-season game. Yet, amidst this common regular season bout, was a performance by Porzingis that served as a reminder of just how good he is next to Luka Doncic.
“As we move along in this season, their chemistry just continues to build,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game.
Porzingis by the numbers:
Porzingis ended the game with 28 points and 14 rebounds. He shot 11-17 from the floor and 2-5 from behind the arc. And his game the entire night was a problem for the Spurs, who struggled to matchup on the defensive end.
He displayed activeness on the floor that suggests his back and knee are recovering just in time for the hardest stretch in the season. Decisions are coming to him quicker offensively, and finally, he is taking advantage of teams that choose to guard him with smaller defenders.
“He was great in this entire game,” Carlisle said. “He did virtually everything. And he is really adapting to teams putting smaller guys on him. He was just tremendous.”
Porzingis’ great game out of the All-Star break comes as no surprise. The time off allowed him to continue working on the aspects of his game that weren’t up to speed at this point in the season.
“I feel like I’m getting there,” Porzingis said. “After you have surgery your leg doesn’t feel the same so I have to keep working on that strength.
“…I’m feeling better with each day and each game, and I am putting in the work. So that is just giving me the confidence that I can go out there and play freely, so I am looking forward to this second half of the season.”
The question for Porzingis is sustainability. One great night can’t mean a week of average performances. What separates the stars from good players in this league is the ability to get up and do it again. Porzingis needs to do it again on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Trending in the right direction:
The good news for the Mavs and Porzingis is that he is trending in a great direction. In the Mavs’ last six wins, he is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds. He is also shooting the ball at a blistering 51 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three.
Porzingis is looking more like the bubble version of himself with each passing game. There is little doubt in both Carlisle and Porzingis’ minds that he will get to where he wants to be by the end of the season.
“I love the way he is adjusting,” Carlisle said. “My feeling is that he is trending up all the time. We are in a sweet spot with his minutes. Defensively he’s been great since he came back from the back issues. He’s getting better and getting near to where he wants to be.”
For Porzingis and the Mavs, they take on the Thunder on Thursday. Then the team ushers in a difficult stretch of games against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trail Blazers. None of these teams are far off from Dallas in the conference standings. It will be a difficult climb up, but if Porzingis is playing as he did against the Spurs, it’s far from impossible.
Featured Image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports