One of the lingering questions in the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks is how the former will contain star guard Luka Doncic. In a media session ahead of Game 1, Klay Thompson was asked how they intend to stop the Slovenian. The guard had an answer but uttered it only after taking a very long pause.
How to stop Luka?
Thompson was asked the million-dollar question: How do you stop the man who’s been compared to the greats like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James? How do you stop a guy with an inherent feel and genius for the game?
“The key to defending this team with Luka… I would say playing your hardest and trusting your teammates are the two keys,” Thompson said.
The long pause and Thompson’s generic answer could mean an array of things. As for one, perhaps Thompson and the Warriors have yet to figure out how to contain the Mavericks’ offensive orchestrator. It’s not as simple as sending two people on him as Doncic is so patient. He’s not the type who easily panics and turns the ball over.
On the other end of the spectrum, we can surmise that Thompson and the Warriors know exactly how to stop the 23-year-old. And it’s not in their best interest to share their secret with the rest of the world. This reading makes more sense. The Warriors is a ballclub oozing with experience. They know how to win games against teams led by generational stars like Doncic.
Parsing out Thompson’s answer, we should expect different defenders to take turns on Doncic. Thompson himself is considered one of the elite perimeter defenders today. Of course, there is Draymond Green, who has the size and intelligence to stand toe-to-toe against the Slovenian.
They also have Andrew Wiggins, who may not be considered a top-tier defender, but he has the length to disrupt the passing lanes. Doncic would have to be very careful with his reads and make precise decisions.
Whether or not Thompson and the Warriors have formulated the strategy to contain Doncic is a matter of wait-and-see. Will they force Doncic to commit a load of turnovers? Will they force him to rage? Since this is the playoff series, it would not be very reasonable to make conclusions based on one game. Instead, let’s keep a close eye on how the Warriors will cover Doncic and how the Slovenian will react for the entire series.