DALLAS - Kristaps Porzingis has joined the chorus in Mavs Nation of those who believe this season's team goal is to make the NBA Playoffs - something that seems more realistic as KP isn't just talking the talk .. but also walking the walk.
“In our mind, we have to make the playoffs,” said Porzingis, who will be a centerpiece of that march, which takes another little step forward with tonight's Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas 7:30 preseason tip at the AAC. “That’s the goal for us. There is no other goal for us, just to make the playoffs as a team. We’re going to put in the work necessary to get to that point.''At this stage in KP's Mavs career, nobody is doubting the "work'' portion of this equation. Porzingis finally made his debut with the Mavericks in a preseason game at the Detroit Pistons and was spectacular in his 20 minutes as finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, and two assists.
“I liked the way he played,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Porzingis. “He moved well, the energy is good. Obviously, he’s very excited to be back out there. It was a great start for him hitting three or four shots in a row. The two quick fouls slowed things down a little, but I don’t think he committed a foul after that. So it was good. We got him just about 20 minutes. So a lot of positives.”
The 7-3 Porzingis had been sidelined for 20 months due to rehab from a serious knee injury and then, following last February's blockbuster trade with the Knicks, due to a rebuilding of his body as he's added 20 pounds of muscle up to 242.
Depending on how the Bucks play this tonight (and depending on how the Mavs play it, too), this game - before it becomes an expected playground for members of the Mavs roster who are actually bound for Frisco to play G-League ball with the Texas Legends - this could be a relative measuring stick for what Dallas needs to accomplish to be taken seriously. As noted in this morning's Mavs Friday Donuts, the Milwaukee lineup, led by "The Greek Freak,'' is both stout and familiar ... stout because its a proven contender and familiar in an additional way, as Mavs ex Wesley Matthews is now playing in his native Wisconsin.
In Dallas, it'll be about a native Latvian (Porzingis) and about a native Slovenian (Luka Doncic) and, I think, some patience as we the ride to the hoped-for destination.
"The Western Conference is extremely tough,'' Porzingis said of the regular-season tests that await this team with aspirations of returning to the playoffs after a too-long draught. "We already know that. We believe that with this group we’re capable of doing it.”