In a league full of established veterans with postseason experience like LeBron James and Damian Lillard, the NBA playoffs are being taken by storm by Luka Doncic.
The young Doncic was 15 years old the last time somebody other than LeBron James or Steph Curry won an NBA championship, back in 2014 when the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the Miami Heat mini-dynasty once and for all. Now, he’s looking to become the next great player in the history of the NBA playoffs.
Luka Doncic has gone from a nice story for the Dallas Mavericks to somebody who could forever alter the trajectory of the LA Clippers franchise
The LA Clippers have been fodder for Doncic’s rise. In last season’s NBA bubble playoffs, the Clippers had the misfortune of getting his Dallas Mavericks in the first round. While the Clippers ultimately came out of the series with a hard-fought win in six games, the Mavs overachieved so drastically that it started the murmurs in the LA front office that ultimately led to head coach Doc Rivers getting fired.
Doncic’s playoff series debut was spectacular. He averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game in those six outings, shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and 36.4 from 3-point range.
The Clippers struggled to find answers for the young superstar, who just a few months before had celebrated his first legal drink in the United States.
Those same Clippers, with a new head coach in Ty Lue and the knowledge that underestimating Doncic and his Mavs could be fatal, have had even fewer answers for him in their matchup this season. The Mavs are up 2-0 after they went into Staples Center and stole the first two games on the Clippers’ home court, and they have their opponents against the wall by the throat.
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been able to slow Doncic down. Neither has Paul George. Double teams aren’t doing the trick, and the Clippers have enough defensive weak links that he’s been able to pick them apart from the perimeter or on the drive.
The Clippers are almost out of time and the playoffs are just a couple of days old.
In the first two games, Luka is averaging 35.0 points, 9.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per outing. He’s 10-of-14 from 3-point range and 27-of-53 from the floor. Mind you, he’s shooting dreadfully from the free throw line, hitting just 42.9 percent, but something suggests that if the Clippers opt to try hacking him in Game 3 or 4 and sending him to the charity stripe over and over, it won’t work out well for them.
So aside from the adjustments the Clippers will need to make to stop Luka Doncic, let’s talk about the burgeoning special relationship that’s developing between them.