LeBron, Steph, Giannis, Nikola, Joel… You do not have to say their full name to know who these superstars in the NBA are.
Well, it is time we start giving Luka this same treatment because at just 23-years-old, the Dallas Mavericks’ All-Star has ascended himself to being one of the best talents not only in the NBA, but in the world!
What Luka Doncic has done for the Mavericks this season has been remarkable and in the postseason, he has elevated his play to a new level in order to make the Dallas Mavericks a legit championship contender.
Entering the year, nobody really saw the Mavericks as a true title threat in the Western Conference and close to halfway through the season, they were just 16-18.
From that point on, Dallas has gone 44-17, including the playoffs, and now find themselves in the Western Conference Finals due to the fact that they have turned themselves into an elite-level defensive team.
Offensively, the Mavs have struggled quite a bit this season to find consistent productivity, but one constant all year long has been Luka Doncic’s dominance.
Finishing the regular season averaging 28.4 points (3rd in the NBA), 9.1 rebounds (19th in the NBA) and 8.7 assists (5th in the NBA), Doncic received a handful of votes for the MVP award and has put up even better numbers so far in the playoffs.
While he missed some time in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz due to a calf injury, Luka Doncic averaged 29.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists versus Utah while shooting 46.8% from the floor, 36.7% from three-point range.
In the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Suns, Doncic averaged 32.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and shot 48.3% from the floor, 32.8% from three-point range.
Against the Suns, Doncic recorded 315 total points, 101 total rebounds and 66 total assists, becoming just the third player in NBA history to record 300p/100r/50a through his first 10 games of a postseason, joining Oscar Robertson (1963) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2022).
Luka scored at least 33 points in four of the seven games played against Phoenix in this series and right now, it does not appear that there is any player in this league that can slow him down on the offensive-end of the floor.
He may not be the best athlete and may not be an explosive talent, but Luka Doncic is poised, he gets to his spots and knows how to break down a defense, which is why the Golden State Warriors are about to have their hands full.
Golden State's Plan To Stopping Luka
The Warriors escaped the Memphis Grizzlies in six games to reach the Western Conference Finals and they have not looked like the flawless Warriors of the past. They have had problems turning the ball over on offense and defensively, Golden State surrendered at least 34 points to Grizzlies' All-Star Ja Morant in every game he played in.
Going from a freakish athlete who can always get to the rim offensively in Morant to a slower, more poised scorer in Doncic, the Warriors are going to have some problems defending the Mavericks’ All-Star one-on-one, especially given that he torched them in the regular season.
In all four matchups against the Warriors in the regular season, Luka Doncic scored at least 25 points and he even went for 41 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists in their final meeting back in March.
So all of this raises the grand question:
“How can the Warriors’ stop Luka Doncic in the Western Conference Finals?”
There really may not be a clear answer to this question simply because Doncic is a generational-like talent that simply cannot be stopped unless he is physically injured and not on the court.
When he plays, good things happen offensively for the Mavericks and right now, Luka is as healthy as he can be and is playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career.
The solution for the Warriors is not necessarily stopping Doncic, but containing those around him in Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson and most importantly, Spencer Dinwiddie off-the-bench.
In regards to Doncic though, we should expect to see a lot of Andrew Wiggins on the Mavericks All-Star to begin this series.
Luka Doncic vs. Andrew Wiggins
An All-Star on All-Star matchup out on the perimeter, Wiggins has the athleticism to be able to keep Doncic in front of him, he has the strength to avoid being outmuscled into the paint and Andrew Wiggins possesses the length to possibly irritate Luka when he goes to shoot from beyond-the-arc.
Now, I am not saying that Andrew Wiggins is the grand solution to containing and stopping Luka Doncic, but he checks off all the boxes for being able to limit his opportunities.
Wiggins the Warriors’ “X-factor” in this series and for the season simply because he is the two-way threat on the wing that they have been missing the last few years with Kevin Durant gone.
Wiggins does not need to look like an All-Star on the floor every game for the Warriors to be an exceptional team and that is what makes him such an important player for them.
Another option should the Warriors’ All-Star struggle and/or be out of the game is rookie Jonathan Kuminga.
Wait a second… Did he just say put a rookie on Luka Doncic, the guy that just dismantled the 64-win Phoenix Suns and gave the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in Mikal Bridges nightmares?
Yes I did and I stand by this statement simply because Jonathan Kuminga is kind of like Andrew Wiggins in the sense that he is an above-average athlete that has great length and is much stronger than he appears to be out on the perimeter.
We should not expect Kuminga to play a ton in this series against the Mavericks, but Steve Kerr does like to go deep into his bench and in certain situations, matching up the rookie on Doncic could turn out to be a favorable matchup for the Warriors based on metrics.
The key to stopping Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on offense is getting the ball out of his hands and forcing those around Doncic to beat you.
The Warriors have a much better chance of beating Dallas in this series by forcing Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie to have the ball late in the shot-clock, which is why both Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga could wind up being in Golden State’s game plan for defending Doncic.
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- What We Learned From Mavericks-Suns Western Conference Semifinals Series: The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns 123-90 on Sunday, winning this Western Conference Semifinals series in seven games and advancing to the Western Conference Finals. CLICK HERE.