The Dallas Mavericks started the playoffs series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a bang, winning the first three out of five matches. Luka Doncic and company were firm favourites heading into Game 6 but they allowed the Clippers to get back on track and eventually knocked them out of the playoffs in the penultimate game.
The Mavs played exceptionally well for most parts as Luka Doncic dropped record breaking performances while Tim Hardway Jr also rose up to the task to support the Slovenian. But all of that was not enough as the Mavs got eliminated in Game 7 despite leading for most of the series.
Speaking about the Mavericks and their first round elimination, ESPN writer Zach Lowe expressed his opinion, “The biggest issue that I felt was the gap between your first and second player can’t be this big and you can’t win a championship. And Porzingis, that’s great. He’s spacing the floor, it’s helpful, didn’t pay him all this money to be a floor spacer. What they paid him really to do was, to hit a lot of open threes and to play a great defense at the rim… Their maximum ceiling is, play center.”
Porzingis, who is facing most of the heat for this loss, averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebs, and 0.7 blocks, all career-lows in the playoffs in 2021. He struggled with his perimeter shooting throughout the series and also did not compensate for it on the defensive side of things.
Highlighting this, former NBA Champion Richard Jefferson said, “If we post him up, if he plays center, he’s already proved his durability is in question… If we have you at center…you keep getting broken down, your knees, that’s not just a knock on him. That is what we feel we can keep you on the floor doing.”
Porzingis missed 29 games due to injury through the regular season and hence he lacked that rhythm in the playoffs. People expected KP to stand tall and support their talisman Luka Doncic which he unfortunately, did not manage to do.
In 15 seasons the Mavs have qualified for the Playoffs 11 times and unfortunately have lost all of them in the first round. Out of all those first round exits, the last seven times have come under current head coach Rick Carlisle. Hence NBA Analyst Kendrick Perkins raised his fingers towards Carlisle and his way of using Porzingis in the series.
“It’s time for the coach to change, don’t blame Porzingis… the ball just cannot be in Luka’s hands 98% of the time. And watching a guy like Porzingis… put him in position… make him feel wanted,” Perkins said.