Opposing Teams Sense Relief Among Luka Doncic's Teammates When He Isn't Playing

May 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) brings the ball up court vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
May 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) brings the ball up court vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić has continued to be a compelling force on the basketball court, especially during the team's playoff run.

Dončić has averaged 28.3 points per game during the postseason already, with his teammate Kyrie Irving falling just behind him with an average of 25.6 points per game. As for the rest of the Mavericks, the other players average only 10 points or less per game.

It's clear that Dončić is carrying the offensive load, and while that would seem like something the Mavericks would be extremely grateful for, apparently one former opposing coach senses that some of his teammates feel a "sigh of relief" whenever he's not on the court just so they have a chance to score.

“It’s a sense of, ‘Hey, now we get to play,’” an anonymous assistant coach told The Ringer's Howard Beck. “It’s difficult to have any rhythm if you’re not touching the ball.”

The veteran coach added that he has a sense the Mavericks feel like “we don’t have to depend on him" when they can score and perform well when Dončić's not on the court.

Dončić has dealt with an illness and a sprained knee during the playoffs already, which has allowed some of his teammates to maybe see more action on the court than they're used to.

The Mavericks lost Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 2 tips off at 9:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night.


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Madison Williams

MADISON WILLIAMS

Madison Williams is a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated, where she has covered the entire sports landscape since 2022. She specializes in tennis, but covers a wide range of sports from a national perspective. Before joining Sports Illustrated, Madison worked with The Sporting News. She hails from Augustana College and completed a Master’s in Sports Media at Northwestern University. Madison is a dog mom and an avid reader.