Former Mavs and current Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle returned to Dallas Saturday night as Indiana battled the Mavs at American Airlines Center.
Carlisle spent 13 seasons as head coach of the Mavericks, including leading the team to its first and only NBA title in 2011.
It was an emotional night for Carlisle, who got a little choked up after the team paid tribute to him pregame.
After the Mavs(29-21) defeated the Pacers(18-33) 132-105, Carlisle discussed the tribute.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Carlisle said. “The only other time I’ve felt that kind of emotional moment was when we raised the banner for the first game of the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12. It was the same kind of feeling, but I was not expecting anything like that. It was a wonderful gesture and much appreciated.
Carlisle explained why things got emotional for him.
“It’s really the combination of over a decade of amazing experiences,” he said. “Some of them were very tough and challenging, other ones very exuberant – periods where it was difficult for extended periods of time during the rebuild and so on. It’s hard to reconcile the whole thing in one moment like that, but it was very nice. I did not anticipate anything quite like that.”
At this point, the Mavericks have won 13 of their last 16 games. Dallas has not trailed in five of their previous eight games, marking the first time since March 2008 that the franchise has had such a stretch.
According to Carlisle, Dallas has the talent to make it to the NBA Finals.
“That’s a team that’s got a real chance, not only to come out of the West, but they’re a good contender,” Carlisle said. “They are very, very good, and we obviously didn’t have our best game.”
One thing that could prevent the Mavs from making a deep playoff run is the health of Kristaps Porzingis, who left the game in the first half with right knee soreness.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Porzingis will not travel to Orlando Sunday in the second half of a back-to-back against the Magic. Hopefully, it’s an injury that won’t linger for Porzingis, who has missed 19 games this season due to injuries and COVID.
Dallas is playing very good basketball right now, but a deep playoff could depend on the teams they play in the playoffs. However, give this team credit for turning things around after a slow start.
-Luka Doncic had 30 points, six rebounds, and 12 assists in the win over Indiana. Since returning from the health and safety protocols on 1/2/22, Doncic is averaging 25.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game.
-Reggie Bullock came off the bench for a season-high 23 points on 8-11 shooting, including 6-8 from deep. The Mavericks are 10-1 when Bullock scores 10+ points and a perfect 7-0 when he scores 15+ points. Bullock scored 14 points in the second quarter.
-Maxi Kleber finished with 15 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds on his 30th birthday. Tonight’s performance was his 2nd double-double of the season and the eighth of his career.
Jalen Brunson (13 points, eight assists), Josh Green (12 points), and Dwight Powell (10 points) each finished in double figures for the Mavericks.