A glimmer of hope was all this season needed in hindsight, From the get-go, the Dallas Mavericks saw themselves as a playoff team. Given the previous three seasons, it seemed an envious goal, even with a budding superstar in Luka Doncic and former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis back from injury.
Yet, they did it. A seventh seed that at times seemed to take the No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers the distance. Making it more impressive was the fact that the Mavericks were without countless key players—Porzingis, Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson, Courtney Lee—for much, if not all of the series.
Game 6 didn’t end the way the Mavericks wanted. Kawhi Leonard was more than a match for Playoff P thoughout the series. Still, Dallas showed something. The team made a case that, even though it was dealing with significant injuries that other teams couldn’t possibly overcome, it belonged in the post season.
In the end, though, it wasn’t to be. In the post-game presser session Doncic was asked in Spanish if this was like Jordan versus the Detroit Pistons. It’s too early to make that correlation. But it would be ignorant to ignore the ascension of Luka Doncic and the Mavericks.
Here’s what they had to say after their loss to the Clippers:
“I am proud of our team and how we fought. I think we fought till the end but the Clippers have an amazing team so it was hard. I think we gave everything and played especially hard in the playoffs. I am proud of our guys.”
“ I’m very excited. I think we stepped out there, played with a lot of heart. Me personally, I just said it in German, I didn’t have a great series at all. Especially offensively, I didn’t play well. I think we have a lot of potential, a lot of room for improvement, and it was the first time we played in the playoffs. It was a different situation here in the bubble and not the usual with our fans because they would have helped us too, but you know it’s a great learning experience and definitely take a lot away from that.”
“It was a tough series for a lot of reasons. We’re down some of our guys, which those kinds of things are going to happen. Today the way that our guys fought through all the ups and downs in a game was something that could make all Mavs fans proud, it makes our organization proud.
“We got a lot of great experience from being down here and being in the playoffs. It’s a different experience without the fans. This morning, we talked about the fact that for a normal game six, we’d be going home to 20,000 people and we’d have a real advantage there. We were going to have to find the energy among our family that’s here to fight and to give ourselves a chance — and they did. They fought as hard as they possibly could. Everyone was into it. You hate to lose but the effort was phenomenally good.”
“I think I’m so proud of my team. I must be honest, because they worked so [hard]. Of course we missed KP, we missed a couple players, but you know I think we stuck together—like a team, like a family. And it’s amazing what we’ve done so far, how we played, how we won a couple games. And it’s an amazing feeling when I’m around these guys, and around the whole staff, and everybody did a great job. And I hope some guys aren’t disappointed too much. And of course it’s a tough game, and of course a playoff, but we gave it our best.”