How Playoff-Ready Is Luka? 'He's Wired For Big Moments'
The Dallas Mavericks don't know much about their NBA Playoffs fate, outside of the fact that they are locked into the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference after Tuesday’s 134-131 loss to Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
They don't know who they play, though as Kristaps Porzingis said, “It looks like we’re going to play the Clippers. I think that’s going to be a fun matchup and a tough matchup for us.''
They don't know when they start Round 1, though as coach Rick Carlisle said, I’ve heard it’s probably going to be Monday.''
This, however, they know: Luka the Leader is ready.
"I know that he’s going to be ready to play,'' Carlisle said. "He’s wired for big moments.''
Doncic, 21, has been spectacular this season in building on his 2018-19 Rookie of the Year campaign. He's a first-team All-Star and an MVP candidate - and now that the NBA has decided to name an "All-Bubble Team,'' he's a candidate for that, too.
He's also not lacking for confidence, even when Dallas approaches the quicksand (for the Mavs) that is clutch time
"We've got it in us,'' Doncic said. "We have young guys, so we aren't going to learn this in one night. You learn through your career.''
And yeah, here comes An NBA Education, Playoffs-Style.
READ MORE: 'Clutch Time' Is 'Dame Time' In Mavs Loss
Dallas' problem, obviously, is that for all of Luka's brilliance, other NBA stars are "wired'' similarly. Dallas is 43-31 overall but a more modest 3-4 in the bubble, largely because on various nights James Harden of the Rockets or Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers or Lillard of the Blazers are also "wired-to-win.''
That's why Porzingis - who has been about as terrific offensively as Luka has - talks frankly of what is ahead of his Mavs.
“We’re competing and at the same time have these regular-season games as preparation for the playoffs,” said KP, who is 25 and like Doncic has zero NBA Playoffs experience. “It looks like we’re going to play the Clippers. I think that’s going to be a fun matchup and a tough matchup for us.
“But it’s a tough matchup for everybody. We want to go out there and play our best basketball so far, put all the little things together and make some noise. That’s our goal.”
In terms of championship rallying mottos, "Make Some Noise'' isn't exactly "The Time Is Now.'' But it is a reality for a Mavs team that will be watching Wednesday as the Clippers look to seal the No. 7 seed (and a Round 1 bout with Dallas) with a win against Denver.
“We will be (ready) by the time we throw it up on whatever day it is,” Carlisle said, before turning his specific attention to Luka the Leader. "He’s got a lot of experience in high-level pressure games internationally. ... All of that stuff is meaningful, and he’s got two years under his belt. ... "He’s wired for big moments. He’ll be fine.”