The Dallas Mavericks upset the Los Angeles Clippers 113-103 in Game 1 of their first round Western Conference playoffs showdown.
It was a particularly hilariously outcome in the eyes of many fans, due in no small part to the fact that LA very clearly tanked at the end of the season to get this specific match-up. It was so apparent that even head coach Ty Lue had to comment on it this week.
After the game, one Mavericks player opted to rub a little salt in the Clippers’ wounds.
“I had an off night tonight, and we’re still able to get the win,” he said after the fact, per Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments, but we’re also going to get better.”
Porzingis finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist on the day – noticeably less than the 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists he averaged this year.
For what it’s worth, though – head coach Rick Carlisle seemed content with his big man’s production.
“Porzingis was very patient in this game,” he said. “He’s got a top-five defensive player in the world guarding him in Kawhi Leonard. They have that much respect for his abilities at the offensive end, and he did a very good job of staying patient and finding ways to create advantages as the game went on.
“There were a couple stretches that I think he got a little frustrated and took a couple of shots that may not have been the best shots, but in the end, I loved his discipline.”
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 21, 2021
Porzingis’ decision to poke at the Clippers can be viewed in two lights. On one hand, it’s nice to see some competitive juices flowing in him – particularly on a night when he was clearly underwhelming. On the other hand, trash-talking the Clippers could prove to be a bad move if it ends up awakening them from their slumber.
Overall, this is going to be an important playoff series for Porzingis’ future in Dallas. His poor relationship with the organization is a matter of public record. Similarly, it’s something of an open secret that the Mavericks tried to trade him, but that nobody wanted him. And the status of his beef with Luka Doncic is, at best, unclear right now.
All of that being said, winning can change everything. And if the Mavericks ultimately pull off a stunning first-round upset over LA over the next week and change – it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see Porzingis officially earn his place as a long-term, important piece of this franchise’s core.