DALLAS - It's coming.
Luka Doncic's back will be fine, and his MVP'ness will help the Dallas Mavericks close the NBA regular season as a playoff threat.
Newcomer J.J. Redick's heel will be fine, and his shot-making excellence - "one of the great shooters in the history of the game,'' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of the just-traded-for vet - will push the Mavs toward improvement on its disappointing 15th-ranked 3-point shooting.
Kristaps Porzingis will keep this up, "this'' being his too-little-help 31-point/18-rebound performance in Friday's 109-94 loss to the Indiana Pacers here at the AAC - and he will have, well, help.
That's the idea for the near future as the Mavs now hit the road with a record that just dipped to 23-20, and a hope to which they’ll cling.
They will also tell themselves they can win “even if,” as coach Rick Carlisle did when he asserted in the postgame, Carlisle on Doncic's absence: "We had enough talent and available guys to win this game tonight. We just didn't execute."
OK, but ... Take away Luka and his 29 points, his 7.9 rebounds and his 9.4 assists per game and the Mavs are no better than a Pacers squad that entered the game at 20-23, and that entered the trade deadline rumored to be sellers of pieces that never quite got sold.
Instead, those "pieces'' - Malcolm Brodgon, Domantas Sabonis (22 points each) and Myles Turner (nine points, seven rebounds) - held Dallas at bay throughout, the Mavs challenging at one point in the second half only to be turned away again.
For Dallas, in addition to KP, Tim Hardaway Jr. (16), Josh Richardson (11) and Jalen Brunson (10) scored in double-figures.
Porzingis said that team exec (and former on-court standout) Michael Finley visited the losing locker room afterward with a pep talk that was well-received by players.
"We got to keep growing as a team,'' KP said. "We have great people around us supporting, giving us advice, looking to help us to be better."
Eventually, the two happiest men in Dallas uniforms might be the two guys who on Friday were not in uniform. Luka Doncic is going to see his assist numbers rise and his shooting burden lessened once Redick is ready to go. And Redick is going to get fed by the most unselfish scorer in the league.
READ MORE: Where Does Redick Fit With Mavs After Trade?
Said GM Donnie Nelson: "I think he’s really excited. He told me Luka is one of his favorite players and Luka had a chance to exchange some texts with him, as did Dirk (Nowitzki). I think he’s pretty excited about coming to Dallas.”
Next, ironically for Redick, Dallas plays at New Orleans - from whence he just came - in the second night of a back-to-back. Redick is not expected to play. It is hoped that Luka will, for along with all the positive hopes about Doncic's back, Redick's heel and Porzingis' streak, a glance at the schedule tells us it would be inexcusable for the Mavs to not only make the playoffs but to drastically improve their seeding down the stretch of the regular season.
Entering Friday, only six of the Mavs' remaining 30 games are against teams with winning records. And none of those games are on the road. So things will get better than they were here on Friday ... we think.