Thunder's cocky approach to guarding Luka Doncic could come back to bite them

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Later today, the Dallas Mavericks open up their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. The Thunder are not necessarily an easy matchup for Dallas considering they're the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and have one of the best players in the NBA in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but the Mavs are also playing at a high level and hit their stride at the right time in their series against the LA Clippers.

Kyrie Irving took over the game in the second half of Game 6 to help earn Dallas the win, and the Mavs are well prepared to try to upset the red-hot Thunder.

While Luka Doncic isn't playing as well as we're used to and struggled some against the Clippers, this couple of days of rest could have been huge for him in preparation to play the Thunder. Doncic's knee still seems to be bothering him, and these extra rest days that Dallas earned through winning in six games rather than seven hopefully allowed Doncic to recover properly.

Thunder using Luka Dort to defend Luka Doncic could come back to bite them

While Doncic still remains one of the best players in the NBA even while he's struggling, the Thunder seem pretty confident in their approach to guarding him throughout their second-round series.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said "just make sure that Lu (Dort) is on time for the game," when talking about defending Doncic, and Daigneault's bold approach to guarding Luka could come back to bite them.

Daigneault coming out and saying right away that Dort is going to be Doncic's primary defender isn't bad as anyone who has watched Oklahoma City could expect that to be the matchup, but he seems a little too confident going into this series when it comes to guarding Doncic.

In two games that Doncic played against Dort this season, he scored 20 points and dished out nine assists while shooting 8-14 from the field and 4-8 from downtown. Doncic's big scoring numbers were only in 11:44 matchup minutes and 62.7 partial possessions, and it doesn't seem like Dort did particularly well while guarding Doncic this year.

Dort has been excellent defensively this season and has the strength and foot speed to stay with Doncic, but there isn't anyone in the NBA who can fully shut down Doncic. Luka will find a way to score regardless of who is guarding him, and that will be no different against Oklahoma City.

Daigneault being so direct and seemingly confident about their game plan of guarding Doncic shows how much he believes in Dort and the rest of his team, but Doncic may silence all the Dort chatter in this series.

For all the latest on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks throughout their second-round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.