Although fans of the Dallas Mavericks, the organization as a whole, and of course, owner Mark Cuban – are sporting gigantic grins on their Western Conference Finals bound faces, Luka Doncic has to be the happiest of them all.
Viewed as a phenom and otherworldly talent, Doncic has established himself as arguably a top five player in the league. Sporting career averages of 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.0 assists, Doncic has already been named to three All-Star Games and two All-NBA selections.
Still, no matter how incredibly polished Doncic’s game appears to be, he ran into an insurmountable roadblock in the LA Clippers. In back-to-back seasons, Doncic and company squared off against quite possibly the two best perimeter defenders in the NBA in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Truthfully, neither could stop him, as Doncic went on to average over 30 points in those series. Regardless of his overall numbers, nonetheless, Doncic was allowed to play one-on-one while the rest of his supporting cast was held in check.
Admittedly, Doncic nearly sent the Clippers home packing, needing six games to get rid of the Dallas star in their first encounter and seven the following year. Coincidentally, with Leonard missing this past season with a torn ACL and George spending most of his time on the sidelines as he nursed a damaged elbow, the Clippers failed to make the postseason this year. As a result, Doncic and the Mavericks have taken full advantage.
Doncic’s reprieve from meeting the Clippers underneath the playoff lights has pushed them to the Western Conference Finals. The Utah Jazz, their 2022 postseason first-round opponent, as well as the Phoenix Suns, their recently vanquished foes, could keep up offensively but didn’t have the necessary pieces needed defensively to play Doncic one on one. Instead, they were forced to overhelp once Doncic got rolling, leading to wide-open 3-point attempts that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
Currently, Doncic is simply one series away from making his first NBA Finals. Whether they make it or not, is yet to be seen. Despite the series outcome, Doncic can sit back and enjoy his monumental success.
Luka torches the LA Clippers but LA normally escapes with the win
While most of the NBA is cowering at his unstoppable offensive array of moves, the Clippers have proven to have an answer for everything Doncic has thrown in their direction. Admittedly, Doncic has scored seven of his top ten games against the Clippers. Also, Doncic is averaging over 32 points per game against LA. But despite the gaudy numbers, Doncic is just 5-7 in the regular season against the Clippers, excluding, as we mentioned earlier, losing back-to-back postseason appearances against them.
At the moment, Doncic should sit back and enjoy his playoff success. However, once Leonard and George re-emerge from the injury room, Doncic’s postseason exploits will be untenable. So while they might be bitter rivals, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks should be thankful that they didn’t run into the Clippers this postseason.