Troubling Luka Doncic stat could determine Mavericks' fate

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks lost the chance to go up 3-1 versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. After leading by as much as 14 in the second half, Dallas allowed the opponent to rally for the comeback victory, getting outscored 22-15 and 35-27 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

The Thunder took the lead for good at the 3:24 mark of the final period, courtesy of a 3-pointer that put them up 89-86. The Mavs kept it close until the final buzzer and had the chance to tie the game with 10.0 seconds remaining.

Trailing 96-94, Luka Doncic drew a shooting foul on Lu Dort. Unfortunately, he missed the first attempt before sinking the second. OKC then held on for the win to tie the series 2-2.

Troubling Luka Doncic stat could determine Mavericks' fate

Many folks have been quick to crucify Doncic for his late-game blunder and shooting just 4-6 from the free-throw line in Game 4. However, an even more unsettling stat could impact the Mavs' fate in the Western Conference semifinals.

The five-time All-Star finished with 18 points on Monday, marking the second time he couldn't score at least 20 in this round. He put up just 19 points in Game 1. As such, Doncic failed to breach the 20-point mark twice in a playoff series for the first time in his career.

"Cool Hand Luka" has spoiled fans with his impressive display of scoring in the past postseasons. However, he hasn't been shooting with same efficiency in this year's playoffs, where he has a field-goal percentage of 40.0 percent, subpar by his standards.

Some might say that the Thunder's defensive game plan and seemingly bold approach to guarding Doncic could be working. However, he also struggled with his shot in Dallas' matchup with the LA Clippers in the previous round.

So, it appears that Doncic's nagging knee injury has been more troublesome than it had initially come across. He hasn't looked right on the floor at all for a while now and even had more turnovers (7) than field goals (6) on Monday. 

Hopefully, the four-time All-NBA First-Team selection can rest up and recover enough to avoid putting another dud in the scoring department for the remainder of the series. After all, the four games he couldn't reach 20 points in the playoffs have resulted in a loss.

Game 5 will be on the road, where a feisty Oklahoma City crowd is surely waiting for the Mavs. The good news is that playing in front of a hostile environment has become Doncic's newest motivation.

For more updates on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, be sure to stay plugged in with us.