As we just saw the Dallas Mavericks advance in the playoffs for the first time in 11 season, Rick Carlisle saw it coming.
"It’s a special group," the Pacers head coach said. "This is a special place. It’s a challenging thing coming back like this and going through all of that."
He said this back on Jan. 29 after the Pacers had played in Dallas, his first game back as on the opposing bench.
Carlisle was the Mavs head coach since 2008, but last summer he elected to break away. Soon after, he signed on to join the Pacers for his third stint with the franchise.
"They’re in a big-time groove," Carlisle said five months ago. "They’re a real threat in the West and in the big picture."
The Mavs, coached by Jason Kidd — who received the endorsement of Carlisle before being hired — then disposed of the Jazz in Round 1 and upset the Suns in Round 2.
They pushed the special Warriors to five games, but didn't have enough just yet. Doncic and others were dragging, exhausted by this run.
Last week, Carlisle was invited on "The GBag Nation" on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas to discuss the Mavs' run and Luka Doncic's rise in the league.
"Their defense travels, they have great playmaking, great versatility both offensively and defensively, they've got five men that switch, that can play big or small," he said. "This eerily reminds me of the 2011 run (to an NBA championship) because it started off not really with much expected.
"A lot of people thought we were gonna lose the first-round series. A lot of people predicted that Utah would beat Dallas with Luka being out for two or three games. They took care of Utah and the momentum has just continued to go. When you beat the best team in the league as decisively as they did, you are playing a high, high-level of basketball."
He was also asked about star Luka Doncic, as you'd expect. Before I get to that, here's what he said back in January.
"If he’s not the best player in the world, he’s right on the cusp," Carlisle said. "He’s just so, so good. I have always had such great respect for his talent and everything about his game. Him as a person, too."
Carlisle then said Doncic is in the same realm as guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden — "Guys that measure every single millimeter of the court and they always have an answer."
Here's what he's saying now, during the playoffs:
"His whole life has been in the spotlight and he learned early on that ultimate respect comes from winning. Really, that's all he's interested in. You just marvel at the things that he's able to do consistently on the floor, night after night, day after day.
"He controls the game. ... Defensively, he's taken his game to another level this year."
More Pacers Coverage
- Why Pacers Guard Malcolm Brogdon Is Most Likely To Be Traded. CLICK HERE.
- Before Indianapolis 500 race weekend, several Pacers players visited the track to soak in the experience. CLICK HERE.
- Scott Agness' experience inside the draft lottery drawing room. CLICK HERE.
- Pacers president Kevin Pritchard reacts to landing the sixth pick. CLICK HERE.
Follow Scott Agness on Twitter: @ScottAgness