Mavs at Golden State GAMEDAY: It's 'KP Watch' as Dallas Hopes To Be 'Road Warriors'
The Dallas Mavericks wouldn't be human if going into tonight's matchup at Golden State they didn't have one eye on the Warriors ... and the other eye on Kristaps Porzingis.
"We got a little unlucky with this health stuff,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, citing not only the soreness in "the other knee'' that has sidelined KP the last seven games but also, now, an illness that has limited the Mavericks’ talented 7-3 center-forward.
On Monday, however, KP was able to get through most of the practice in Dallas before the team boarded the plane for the West Coast. That marks the first time he's accomplished that goal since the knee flared up on New Year’s Eve - and his status has been upgraded to questionable going into this game, the first of a back-to-back set that has the Mavericks at Sacramento on Wednesday.
Logic suggests that maybe Porzingis will only play one of the two games - if even that - as he ramps back up. Dallas has to be patient in its decision-making here ... but given the fact that he is a premium player and the second-best performer on this team who in the nine games before he was injured was zipping along at 19 points and 11 rebounds per?
One can understand why "impatience'' is also in play, at least for Mavs watchers.
The first test comes today, with the simple act of the medical staff checking on how he's doing after a Monday workout that Carlisle said "wasn’t a full live practice, but there was some contact and a lot of movement.''
Golden State is theoretically beatable even if Dallas isn't at its best, especially because of the presence of Luka Doncic - and the hard numbers that tell us what a fine road team the Mavs are, at 12-5 away from home.
At the same time, the Mavericks (24-15 overall and in sixth place in the West) have gone just 3-4 without Porzingis and were just 3-3 on the recent extended homestand, as detailed by DBcom here.
The Warriors (9-32 and losers of eight straight) will do their best to test Dallas with Steph Curry in street clothes but with D'Angelo Russell (23.7 points per game) Alec Burks (15.8) Eric Paschall (13.6) and Draymond Green (8.6 points with 6.4 rebounds) working to lead the way in the Bay.
“This road trip is challenging, two games in two nights,” Carlisle said. "But the most important thing right now is getting on a plane and going to San Fran and getting ready to play Golden State.”
Granted. But the second-most important thing? Casting an eye on KP.
“We miss him,” Carlisle said. “That’s obvious. I don’t like getting into 'the excuse game' when you’re missing any player because you have a deep roster to take up for that. And as a team you just got to find a way to win some games. But we are where we are.”