Dallas Mavericks: The biggest threat to Luka Doncic’s hot streak
By Kohl Rast
Luka Doncic has been on a tear lately and the Dallas Mavericks have benefitted from it. How will the team respond to three world-class defenders all trying to slow down their star player?
The Dallas Mavericks take on the LA Clippers tonight, and with it, three of the top defenders in the league at their positions. Luka Doncic is on one of the best hot streaks I have ever seen from a player and it seems like almost nothing can stop him. Well, if something can, it may be the LA Clippers death lineup.
The Clippers are currently home to three of the best defenders in the league and each one presents a different challenge for the Dallas Mavericks. Because Luka is 6’7, there is a very real chance that he will get each of these three guys thrown at him at different times in the game. If there is any team in the league that can slow the young Slovenian down, it is likely LA.
How Luka responds to this challenge is going to be very important for the team going forward. Of all the teams that the Mavericks have played, this one presents the most unique challenges by far.
Patrick Beverley is a tough matchup for Luka. He has struggled some with smaller defenders like Avery Bradley earlier this year, and Beverley is a better, more frustrating defender. Bradley is stronger than Bev, though, and Luka isn’t afraid to post up smaller defenders when needed. Beverley is tough, but I can’t imagine Luka wouldn’t be able to get him into foul trouble.
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As far as Kawhi Leonard goes, Luka actually had one of the best games of his rookie year with Leonard trying to slow him down. Kawhi is one of the smartest defenders in the league, but he hasn’t seen very many individual talents that can do what Luka can. I don’t expect Kawhi to be on Luka nearly as much as the other two.
Last is Paul George. PG has guarded Luka during his rookie year as well and Luka again played fairly well. The fact of the matter is that there are very few people who can even slow Luka Doncic down. The reason this one feels different to me is simply because they can throw several uniquely different defenders at the youngster.
With another dominant performance from Luka and the Mavs, two things will happen very quickly. Luka Doncic will no longer be outside of the top two in the MVP race. LeBron has been fantastic and is obviously having a nice response year after a tough one last season, but Luka is playing at a level that very few have played at in history. This would put him close to the driver’s seat in MVP talks.
The other thing is that Dallas will now be considered a true contender in the West. They should already be there, but three wins (really four) against the top four teams in the West will definitely go a long way in the rankings. The Clippers and Rockets will still probably be ranked above Dallas, but at least they would be near the top.
Dallas is going to have a chance to go for six straight wins tonight as they take on the LA Clippers in Dallas. The game will tip-off at 7:30pm central time and will air on NBATV.