The torch may have already been passed long ago, but his
performance in the desert on Sunday will be looked back upon for
years to come. Luka Doncic did the unthinkable with the Dallas
Mavericks, carrying his team to the Western Conference Finals over
the No. 1 overall seed Phoenix Suns.
Doncic’s brilliance was on full display for all to witness in
the Valley in a Game 7 thrashing. At halftime, Doncic alone matched
the Suns’ point total with 27, as Dallas led by a whopping 30. From
the very beginning, Doncic set the tone for the Mavericks with a
quick 8-point blitz, and they never took their foot off the gas
pedal in a dominant 123-90 victory.
Similar to what unfolded in last year’s Finals between the Suns
and Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Doncic was the foil
to the Suns’ radiant championship hopes as odds-on betting
favorites. And Doncic once again let everyone know he’s one of the
best basketball players in the world at age-23.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for Doncic’s future success,
and how he cracked the code on Phoenix without a co-star alongside
him is what makes this even more incredible.
“He’s Luka,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “He loves the
stage. He loves that as it gets bigger, he gets better, and I
thought he set the tone of getting everyone involved and taking
shots when they presented themselves.”
In the Western Conference Semifinals, Doncic put up a stellar
stat line with little resistance from the Suns’ top-tier defense:
32.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game on
58.3% True Shooting with a 40.3% usage rate. You’re reading that
correctly. Doncic averaged those numbers while over 40% of
the offensive creation was upon his shoulders. It was an absolute
masterclass performance from Doncic against Phoenix, and it only
adds to the folklore surrounding his postseason dominance.
Only two players in NBA history have averaged at least 30 points
per game in the postseason: Michael Jordan and Doncic. Granted the
sample sizes are very different and it's a lofty parallel, but when
you compare Doncic with arguably the greatest player in NBA history
during high-pressure playoff games, it’s jaw-dropping how similar
he stacks up.
Willing the Mavericks across the finish line in Phoenix, Doncic
sealed his status as one of the Association’s best. Already putting
up future Hall-of-Fame numbers on his current career trajectory,
Doncic has entered the next tier of NBA superstardom. Looking back
on the moment when Doncic ripped out the Suns' heart after falling
into an early 2-0 series hole will become a common theme soon
Advancing onto the West Finals — a stage Dallas hasn’t
experienced in a decade — Doncic couldn’t help but let his
enthusiasm seep into his postgame commentary on Sunday night.
“Honestly, I am really happy,” Doncic said. “You can’t get this
smile off my face; I am just really happy. Honestly, I think we
deserve this. We’ve been playing hard the whole series; maybe a
couple of games, we weren’t ourselves, but you know, we came here
with a statement. Game 7. We believed, our locker room believed,
everybody believed, so I’m just happy.”
Going into hostile territory and embarrassing the opposition in
this fashion is rare in a do-or-die Game 7. The way the Mavericks
were able to control the tempo early and suffocate Phoenix into
submission was one of the most impressive team-wide performances
witnessed in the NBA this season. Kidd put on an incredible
strategical play to slow down the Suns’ dynamic backcourt duo of
Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
With Doncic allotting video-game-esque stats along the way,
Dallas quickly swiped series momentum and never relented.
“I’m having fun, man,” Doncic said after the Mavericks’ 33-point
Game 7 win. "I’ve always said, when I’m having fun, I play my best,
so I was having fun. But it wasn’t me, it was the whole team.
[Sunday] was just incredible. I’ve never seen a performance on Game
7 like this. I can’t remember the last time someone went to the
away game and did this, so I’m really proud of what we
With this magical postseason ride, Doncic has placed the
Mavericks into a new tier. With a superstar of Doncic’s caliber,
the possibilities are truly endless for their short- and long-term
The Finals window just got broken down with authority a few
years in advance for Dallas — all thanks to the Slovenian
Looking to go to the hottest concerts, sports, theater &
family shows near you? Get 100% guaranteed tickets to more than
125,000 live events from TicketSmarter, the official ticket
marketplace of BasketballNews.com. Order online now!