Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was careful, following his team's Game 1 win at the Clippers in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs, to praise star Kristaps Porzingis for "patience'' during his occasional in-game struggles.
But KP himself is not being "careful'' as he is issuing warning shots toward L.A. as the teams prepare for Tuesday's Game 2.
"We have a lot of weapons,'' he said after Saturday's 113-103 win. "We have a lot of tools.''
That statement essentially suggests that Porzingis, while finishing with a fairly modest 14 points and four rebounds while shooting 4-for-13 from the field and 1-for-5 from the arc, is ready to break out ... and that the Luka Doncic-led underdog Mavs have multiple ways to secure a 2-0 lead in the series.
“I had an off-night, and we were still able to get the win,'' he said. "I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments, but we’re also going to get better.''
One reason KP wasn't at his best in Game 1, suggested Carlisle, was the fact that L.A. often assigned superstar Kawhi Leonard to guard him.
“Porzingis was very patient in this game,” Carlisle said. “He’s got a top-five defensive player in the world guarding him in Kawhi Leonard. They have that much respect for his abilities at the offensive end, and he did a very good job of staying patient and finding ways to create advantages as the game went on.''
In the end, KP made two late-game foul shots and a punctuation-mark dunk with a minute left to help seal the upset, the Mavericks’ first Game 1 playoff win since the 2011 Western Conference Finals, when Dallas went on to win it all.
The Mavs might have some big offseason decisions to make on Porzingis’ long-term fit here. Ideally, though, Porzingis - who despite again struggling through a season with injury issues reached averages of 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists - would be a part of a Big Three following the Dallas front office's efforts to add to the roster without subtracting him.
For now? Dallas is sort of a "Big One,'' with Doncic carrying the load with his Game 1 triple-double of 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. But if KP is right about his "weapons warning''? Just as Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson busted out as key helpers in Game 1, Porzingis can do the same in Game 2.
The Dallas Mavs, collectively, have the tools. And individually, so does Kristaps Porzingis.