Once upon a time, a 22-year-old LeBron James led his Cleveland Cavaliers to an upset series win over the top-seeded Detroit Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals in just his fourth season.
James was already established as a bonafide superstar before that happened, but his breakthrough to the biggest basketball stage in the world over a tough, championship-level team at such a young age only added to his growing legend.
Against the Pistons, nobody truly believed that Cavs team would come out on top until Game 5 happened. After going down 2-0 to start the series, the Cavs stormed back to win two in a row at home before heading back to Detroit for Game 5. James posted a masterpiece performance by scoring 48 points as the Cavs won 109-107 in overtime.
So far in the Dallas Mavericks’ Western Conference semifinals series against the league-best Phoenix Suns, things are looking awfully similar to that 2007 ECF between the Cavs and Pistons despite it being one round sooner.
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Like James 15 years ago, Luka Doncic has already established himself as one of the biggest superstars in the league in his fourth season, and his Mavs have come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie their series with the Suns at 2-2 as a pivotal Game 5 is set to take place in Phoenix on Tuesday night.
Dallas still isn’t favored to beat the Suns despite having momentum after two convincing wins in Games 3 and 4 — they’re 6-point underdogs in Vegas for Game 5. However, they have the best player in the series, and history tells us that counts for something more times than not.
Will Doncic continue to get exceptional help from his supporting cast like he has over the last two games? If not, can he turn things up a notch and will the Mavs to a shocking 3-2 series lead by shouldering most of the load himself?
Doncic grew up idolizing James, and their styles of play emulate one another. Doncic likes to pass first if he’s able to find a wide-open teammate, but he also has the ability to completely take over a game with his scoring as well. After having a couple of subpar shooting games in a row — 40 percent from the field, including 17.6 percent from deep in Games 3 and 4 — perhaps Game 5 is where we see another Doncic breakthrough.
We’ve seen it all before. Now let’s see what the basketball gods have in store for us tonight as history attempts to repeat itself. Regardless of the end result, we could have a classic on our hands.