Luka Doncic is one of the best players in the entire NBA and he has proven this so far for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs.
He not only carried Dallas to their first series win since 2011, defeating the Utah Jazz in six games in the first-round of the playoffs, but in back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals, Doncic has scored 45 points and 35 points, respectively.
At just 23-years-old, the former 3rd overall pick has transcended to superstar status in the NBA and is now one of the faces of the league for a long-time to come.
However, he and the Mavericks currently find themselves down 0-2 in their Western Conference Semifinals series to the Suns, a series that may very well be over if Dallas is unable to find a way to win Game 3 at home on Friday.
Defense has been where the Mavericks have thrived all year long, but Phoenix has picked them apart on this end of the court, scoring 121 points in Game 1 and then 129 points in Game 2 on Wednesday.
During the regular season, Dallas ranked sixth in defensive rating and second in points allowed per game (104.7), but the Phoenix Suns are not just some ordinary team.
They are extremely deep and have arguably the best backcourt duo in the league in Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Not to mention, this team won a franchise record 64 games during the regular season and are the best team in the league record-wise.
It is going to take a lot more than defense to beat the Suns, especially now down 0-2 in this series, and the Mavericks have also had their fair share of struggles on the offensive-end of the floor against Phoenix.
Luka Doncic has accounted for just under 36% of the team’s total scoring output in this series and both Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie have not shown up through the first two games.
Brunson entered this series against the Suns leading all players in postseason points this year, but he has only scored a total of 22 points through two games and off-the-bench, Dinwiddie has only scored a total of 19 points.
Together, these two guards are averaging 20.5 points per game on 32.6% shooting, which is not going to get the job done and head coach Jason Kidd has noticed this.
“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said in regards to Doncic and the team’s performance after their Game 2 loss in Phoenix. “We've got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can't win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not this time of the year and playing the best team in the league.”
Production on the offensive-end of the floor has been very inconsistent for the Mavericks all season long and Tim Hardaway Jr. being out indefinitely with a foot injury has not helped things one bit.
At times, Brunson, Dinwiddie and others step up to give Doncic a huge boost offensively, but in order to win Game 3 and potentially more games against the Suns in this series, Dallas is really going to have to dig deep and try to find ways to break down Phoenix’s top-tier defense.
“The mood is fine,” Doncic said after the Mavs’ 20-point defeat on Wednesday. “I think a lot of players, it's the first time in this situation. They've got to win four, so it's not over yet. We are going to go back home, our crowd is amazing.”
Doncic brings up a very good point here, as the Mavericks went 29-12 at home during the regular season and 2-1 against the Jazz in their first-round series.
Playing on the road is tough, especially in the playoffs, and if you think about it, the Phoenix Suns did their job winning the first two games on their home court.
The saying around the league is that “a series does not begin until a team loses at home,” and so far this has not occurred. Dallas certainly has a chance to win Game 3 and being down 2-1 is one thousand times different than being down 3-0 in a playoff series.
The Mavericks absolutely have the ability to come back in this series against the Suns, but based on what we have seen so far through two games, it is hard to imagine that they actually have what it takes to win this series.
Luka Doncic is a one-man team right now and until someone else steps up, primarily on the offensive-end of the floor, it is very hard to see the Mavericks winning a game in this series.
Game 3 on Friday night will be very telling as to if Dallas can make this series somewhat interesting or if Phoenix will sweep the series, going back to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.
Related stories on NBA basketball
- Complete 2022 NBA Playoffs Schedule, Results, Gametimes, TV, Point Spreads: The best two months in basketball are here as the NBA postseason has arrived, starting with the Play-In Tournament on Tuesday. Here is the complete schedule, with gametimes, TV information and point spreads. We will update this story daily with results and updated betting lines, so bookmark it and follow along for the next two months of a wide-open postseason. CLICK HERE.
- How to Watch Suns at Mavericks Game 3 on Friday: The Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks will play Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals playoff series on Friday. CLICK HERE.