Look at this statline:
42 points, 14 assists, 8 rebounds, +15 rating in a game his team won by 5. He scored or assisted on 31 of Dallas’ 37 total made field goals in the game. That is astounding.
This dude is 22 years old.
In the first quarter, he was straight bombing step-back threes left and right, going 5-5. He got cold from the floor as the game went on, but he really had no choice but to keep shooting. His team was -10 with him on the bench, and as we can see, the Mavs other than Luka were 8-24 from three in the game and 20-52 from the floor overall. But again–the Mavs as a team only made 6 field goals that weren’t either Luka’s or assisted by Luka.
The Mavs made a grand total of two field goals while Luka was on the bench–35 of their 37 made field goals happened while Luka was on the court.
I don’t want to say I’m getting 2007 LeBron vibes right now because it’s only the first round, but Luka Doncic is truly a special player. We might be witnessing the arrival of an all-time great, although Dallas still has to close this series out.
While Luka’s 14 assists were impressive on their own, if you watched the game, you saw just how many wide open looks he found for his teammates that they just missed. He could have had close to 20 assists.
Meanwhile, Kawhi was 7-19 from the floor including 1-7 from three, and was -8 while on the floor for 20 total points. He also had 5 turnovers. And to top it all off, he airballed the potential game-tying three in the final ten seconds of the game, eliciting this classic response from Rajon Rondo:
Paul George was better, scoring 23 on 7-15 shooting (3-7 from three) with a +18 rating, but with just under four minutes to play, with the Clippers only down 4 and the game hanging in the balance, he bricked a pull-up three and then got ripped by Dorian Finney-Smith on the next possession. Tim Hardaway then hit a deep three to put the Mavs up 7 on the ensuing possession, and then on the next possession for LA, Paul George got blocked by Finney-Smith, leading to a Porzingis three to make it a 10-point game with 2:13 to play. This is why people clown on Paul George so much.
Honestly, the only reason the Clippers were even alive in that game late was because of Reggie Jackson, who was 6-12 from three for 20 points. He was the only Clipper hitting threes last night–everyone else was a combined 8-26.
Other than Reggie Jackson, the only real bright spot for the Clippers was Nic Batum, who played 33 minutes and had 10 points on 3-7 shooting with 7 rebounds for a +18 rating.
Then you look at guys like Zubac: sure, he was 2-2 from the floor for 6 points with 11 rebounds, but his plus/minus was -19 in 20 minutes. That’s terrible. “Playoff Rondo” was 0-6 from the floor for 1 point in 21 minutes for a -19 rating. He had 6 assists, but -19? Yikes. Pat Bev apparently doesn’t even play anymore after how badly Luka abused him earlier in the series. He was listed as playing 0 minutes but still managed to be -2.
Honestly, the Clippers have a lot of role players that I like, but they just can’t seem to get it together. I saw some good flashes out of Zubac last night; I loved Playoff Rondo on the Lakers last year and during the Boston run with the big three; I want to see Boogie Cousins catch a break after all the injuries he’s had over the past 3-4 years or so. But it just doesn’t look like it works with this Clippers team. They don’t seem to have “it.” I don’t know what their identity is and I don’t know who their leader is.
Dallas has an identity. It’s “put up a ton of points” and let Luka do his thing. They most definitely have a leader–and there’s no questions about him at all.
Luka Doncic is the best player in this series. Hands-down. I don’t want to hear any nonsense about Kawhi. If you took somebody who just came out of a 10-year coma and showed them this game, then asked him “Who is the best player in this series?” He’ll say #77 on Dallas.
Luka had 42 points on 37 shots, Kawhi and PG combined for 43 points on 34 shots.
After 5 games in this series–and 6 in last year’s playoff series!–the Clippers still don’t have an answer for Luka. Paul George and Kawhi were supposed to be the best perimeter defensive duo since MJ and Pippen, but I hardly ever see them guarding Luka.
After the game, Draymond Green was asked, on Inside the NBA, what it’s like to face Luka. He said, “You’re facing a guy who’s in total control of the game.” Sounds a lot like LeBron. Draymond added that you cannot force Luka to play at your pace or speed him up; he will always be the one dictating the pace of the game, playing how he wants to rather than how you want to, waiting for his opportunity and then striking.
Again, Dallas still has to close this series out at home. But Luka has been incredible in this series. And he’s been dealing with some sort of injury in his shoulder/neck.