Dallas Mavericks advantage over Denver Nuggets: 3. Luka Doncic
Doncic didn’t need long in the league to establish himself as a playoff threat. In six postseason games against the Clippers inside the bubble, he averaged 31.0 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.8 rebounds per game, and brought immense help on the defensive end. The Mavericks lost after Kristaps Porzingis was injured, but Doncic’s incredible performance makes fans wonder if anyone in the league can stop him in the playoffs.
Luka’s offensive numbers this season are almost identical to last year’s, and he’s maintained this success for a huge chunk of the season without his co-star in Kristaps Porzingis. After an abysmal start to the year beyond the arc, Doncic only messed around and put up a career-high 35.5 percent on eight attempts a game, as of May 10. He’s established himself as one of the greatest passers in the league.
In eight career games against Denver, Doncic hasn’t shot the ball particularly well. He has hit just 25 percent of his threes and 8.8 field goals made on 19.8 attempts per game.
However, he’s averaged 31.3 points per game against Denver in 2021, easily his best scoring stretch against the Nuggets so far. He also has 10.8 assists per game in his career against the Nuggets, and a plus-28 when he’s been on the floor, showcasing Denver’s inability to swallow his offensive creativity when he can’t get a good shot off.
Doncic’s defensive efficiency has grown stronger over time. The Nuggets will have to get creative for offensive output away from Jokic. Although Doncic’s biggest defensive weakness is his inability to keep up with a first step, Denver may not have the speed to pick on him without Jamal Murray.
At least against Denver, Doncic having Josh Richardson or Josh Green by his side at the two-guard should bolster Dallas’s ability to contain Denver’s backcourt offense.
Next: No. 2