The Siren's Call GAMEDAY: Lakers at Mavs as 'The Unicorn' Looks to Sidestep the Enchanted Glue Factory
DALLAS - Two games isn't a lot. Not really, if you think about it.
Just, for the love of everything considered sacred in the grand scheme of things, don't step back and take a look at the whole picture. You'll end up wanting to do feverish laps inside a pool filled with sulfuric acid which - oddly enough - feels strangely similar to navigating through Mavs Twitter after a loss.
The Dallas Mavericks are sitting in the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, something you should find rather unnerving considering that scorching hot start. While a majority of eyes have fallen on Luka Doncic, the Mavs have been casually "oh-no-that's-no-Oz-behind-the-curtain" in terms of vocalizing much about Kristaps Porzingis' injury.
Oh, knee soreness, yeah?
Combined with an illness? Ooo boy, that's a doozy.
“KP will not play either of these games this weekend,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He continues to progress. He’s doing better all the time.''
Mere fragments of verbose hints surrounding a Porzingis return have been stylized by the press as they attempt to beat plowshares into swords, choking mildly whenever the so-called hints turn out to be just that - words. Side-eye glances trickle to Kristaps' form whenever his suited-down frame towers over no-one in particular inside the locker room following games during this homestand. ... Five games with two more games to go.
Two more games of watching Porzingis dressed as Ron Burgundy pace the space in front of his locker, the band-aid covering the feeble puncture on his right knee where he received a platelet-rich-plasma injection out of sight but certainly not out of mind.
Two games tacked on make seven. One at home against the Anthony Davis-less 30-7 Los Angeles Lakers at 8:45 tonight, with LeBron James in the house ... and then another the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. And maybe another one when the Mavs (23-14) head over to the West Coast for a back-to-back with Golden State and Sacramento).
Without Porzingis, the Mavs are somniferous when it comes to protecting the rim, as shown most recently in their 107-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Nikola Jokic managed to put up 33 points, which included a game-winning bucket.
Kristaps, who has been averaging 17.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game, has been a missing factor in the past five games where the Mavs have been out-rounded a whopping 266-249.
The key here is not to try and force anything when it comes to the Unicorn, it's more of a "hurry up and wait" type of caution that the Mavs are incorporating. The pairing up of Kristaps and Luka has been the selling point when it comes to the franchise and considering his 2018 ACL tear (to "the other knee,'' not this one) they want to tip-toe around what could possibly be a live grenade.
It's easy to understand WHY the Mavericks are being tight-lipped about Porzingis' injury, but it causes the fanbase to start turning on each other and imploding as prematurely as a Kardashian marriage. Bringing back a half-backed Porzingis could spell gloom-and-doom for this team, put the pressure back on Doncic's young shoulders, and possibly knock Dallas even further down in the West.
"Look, we miss him on both ends, but until he's back, there's no point in talking about what we're missing with him not being out there," Carlisle said tartly following their loss to Denver. "A lot of teams are going through health issues right now. He's doing better all the time. There's nothing imminent on him, but he's doing better."
This team has proven that it will not back down easily, but it's clear that they're rather subdued in the clutch, often going impotent during close games. Hopefully, it will change when Porzingis gets back on the court, which will allow MVP candidate Doncic to rest some.
As Carlisle put it, Kristaps' health is the No. 1 thing here. Running him when he's not ready could ship him directly to the glue factory ... and no one wants that.