DALLAS - During the Dallas Mavericks' 115-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons, Dwane Casey took notice about the potential of his opponent. That was even the case without superstar Luka Doncic being in the lineup, too.
Casey envisions the Mavericks getting out of the first round of the NBA playoffs despite playing in the loaded Western Conference. The play of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is a key factor in his evaluation - calling them both 'superstars.'
“The West is tough, but (the Mavs) have two superstars in Doncic and Porzingis that can go off at any moment and (they have) great players around them,” Casey said. “I see them (getting out of the first round).”
The style of play the Mavericks utilize makes them a tough team to face in Casey's eyes. Dallas has the ability to break the defense down off-the-dribble while being able to make them pay by converting from beyond the arc.
“They’re playing today’s NBA game that you’ve got to play,” Casey said of the Mavs. “And when that type of team is hot, it’s hard to turn off that water.
“They break you down, and as their drive, kick, swing game comes around, their guys are very capable 3-point shooters.”
Having a player like Luka Doncic is enough to give the Mavericks a chance to win against just about any team on practically any given night. However, the team has enough complementary talent to get hot enough to overwhelm a defense.
The coaching abilities of Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is something that Casey is very familiar with. He believes Carlisle's presence and leadership will make them a nightmare for whoever Dallas faces in the playoffs.
“Rick has them competing,” Casey said. “They’re going to play hard, they’ve got a lot of pride, they’re smart, so that is something you’ve got to account for. Their basketball IQ is pretty high.
“I told Rick I love his team when we played them the last time. I just don’t like coaching against them, but I like their team and they’re going to be hard to deal with in the West.”
As long as the Mavericks can stay healthy, they will be a tough out for whoever they face in the opening round of the playoffs. The durability and play of Porzingis will be a pivotal element to Dallas being able to actually pull off the upset.
It remains to be seen how long Porzingis will be sidelined due to his knee soreness. The Mavericks are expected to be cautious when considering it's the same knee as his torn ACL injury from earlier in his NBA career.