New Yorkers were very excited about Kristaps Porzingis. Not initially. If you remember, the decision to select him in the 2015 NBA draft with the fourth pick was met with resounding boos. Those weren’t regular boos either, they were New York boos!
Those just hit different.
Of course, after Porzingis started to show up in games, even dominate, the New York faithful began to embrace him. That was the start of the greatest NEW York Knick lovefest since Jeremy Lin. This one lasted longer too, but it didn’t last long enough. In what was a pretty shocking trade, the Knicks sent Porzingis to the Mavericks in early 2019. Pairing the Unicorn with Luka Doncic looked to be a perfect pairing.
Porzingis is 7′ 3″ but actually has game from outside the low post. In fact, well outside the low post. He is the quintessential modern day NBA “center”. Luka, of course, has the look a potential generational player. He has amazing court vision, tenacity and play-making skills. In a word, this was kinda like pairing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with LeBron James.
I realize how absurd that sentence is, and I am not saying either Maverick will be those player, only that the similarities work.
The problem was that Porzingis was coming off a significant ACL surgery and he jus twasn’t the same player in Dallas that he was in New York. Until, now. I mean, it didn’t start in this game against the Clippers, it had been brewing for a while, but in this game the Clippers saw the first Unicorn they have seen since New York.
Porzingis is playing like he did, Doncic is playing like he always has and the Mavericks surrounded them with very good role players and a great coach. These Mavericks, currently the 7th seed in the Western Conference, seem to be a lock to play the #2 seed which so happens to be the Clippers.
The early Bubble games for the Clippers and the Lakers were really warm-ups. Both LA teams had a solid hold on the #1 and #2 position, so these games were about getting the players legs back and building chemistry as they re-grouped. The Clippers were 1-2 heading into this game and seemingly understood that the time to warm-up was over. This is a team they very likely will meet in the first round of the playoffs and it was time to send a message.
So, the Clippers sent a message.
In their 126-111 win the Clippers swept the Dallas Mavericks and while the game wasn’t necessarily an easy win for the LAC, they beat the Mavericks when both their stars played like stars. Doncic had 29 points and 6 assists and only 4 turnovers in 35 minutes of play. Porzingis chipped in 30 points and narrowly missed a Bubble Double Double with 9 rebounds. The Mavericks gave the Clippers their best shot and the Clippers won.
That, bodes well for the Clippers who have four games left before the start of the Bubble playoffs.