Porzingis On Mavs' NBA Playoffs Chase: 'You Can't Trick Yourself'

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - The All-Star Break is over. Luka Doncic is back from Chicago. Kristaps Porzingis is back from a beach vacation. And the Dallas Mavericks are back at practice hoping for an NBA Playoffs push that doesn't cause them to have to "trick themselves.''

“It’s always kind of been tough (being) below .500,” said Porzingis, reflecting on his years with the non-contending New York Knicks. “After the All-Star Break, you still have a little bit of chance to make the playoffs and you still keep fighting a little bit. But there’s one point where you can’t trick yourself no more. 

"It’s like, 'All right, we’re not going to make the playoffs.' It’s hard. It’s hard.''

KP's Mavs, of course, are in a much more enviable spot. Dallas is two-thirds through the season and has produced a 33-22 record and a seventh-place slot in the West. We continue to believe that the rapid development of the All-Star Doncic has allowed the Mavericks to skip a step or two along the usual process from zero to 60. But with 27 games remaining, nothing is a given.

"NBA games are hard,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "They’re challenging. For us to do as well as we can do, it’s going to be a combination of sacrifices made for each other and playing well together. And playing hard together.

“We just want to continue to reinforce those two or three things that are just so important, because down the stretch there will be a lot at stake in terms of seeding and everything else.”

Dallas hasn't been very successful against other playoff-level teams and the Mavs haven't been very good at home, either. It's worth noting, therefore, that their next three games are at Orlando (Friday), at Atlanta (Saturday) and then home against Minnesota (Monday), a trio of sad sacks that on paper should boost Dallas' win-loss record.

“We’re going to be fighting to the last second of the last regular-season game and try to get as many wins as we can,'' Porzingis said. "And we’ll see where we end up at the end of the season. Our goal is the playoffs. That’s our mindset.”