The Dallas Mavericks have officially arrived. After a pair of disappointing postseason exits at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers in the previous two seasons, the Mavericks officially completed their comeback against the Phoenix Suns to book their spot in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Initially, it looked like the Suns’ star guard duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker would be too much for the Mavs to handle. But as the series went on, they were systematically outplayed by Dallas’ star guard, Luka Doncic. In the process, Doncic dominated the Suns in a way that no player has ever done in NBA playoff history.
Consider this mind-boggling statistic that displays just how dominant Doncic was against Phoenix. Throughout the seven-game series, Doncic outscored the Suns’ top scorer in Booker (218 to 164), had more assists than the Suns’ top passer in Paul (49 to 40), outrebounded their starting center Deandre Ayton (69 to 57), and had more steals than their best defensive player Mikal Bridges (15 to 9). To say Doncic was dominant might be an understatement.
Doncic asserts his claim for the best all-around player in the league
Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has been the NBA’s best all-around player for the past two seasons. But with the way Doncic has played throughout the playoffs, he may be on the verge of challenging Jokic for that title. Nobody can single-handedly win their team games, but Doncic’s performance in their series against the Suns was about as close as anyone will come to doing so.
Doncic has always had a unique skill set at the guard position, but he’s taking things to the next level. Every phase of the game was in Doncic’s control in this series. He was practically unstoppable once he got switched off of Paul on defense after some early series struggles.
What is tough to remember is that Doncic is still just 23 years old. He hasn’t even hit the peak of his career yet, and he’s already asserted himself as the best all-around guard in the game right now. What will he look like when he has truly mastered his craft in a few years?
Doncic proves that the future is now for the Mavs
Flanked with a fantastic supporting cast, Doncic altered his game to focus on getting his teammates involved after Dallas fell in a 2-0 hole against Phoenix and promptly embarrassed them throughout the remainder of the series. As they head into their Western Conference Finals matchup against Golden State, it’s clear the Mavericks mean business now.
Rarely can players impact the game in a way Doncic can, and that quick tidbit from their series against the Suns shows just how good he was. He outperformed the Suns’ top players in the skill at which they are the best. Booker is a scorer, Paul is a passer, Ayton is a rebounder, and Bridges is a defender. Those are their defining traits. And Doncic managed to outperform all of them individually in their own best skill.
With Doncic on the court, Dallas can win every game they play. Rarely can that be said for one player, but Doncic is that good, and this series proves it. And as they head into a series with a high octane Warriors offense, Doncic may have to take his game to the next level if he wants to head to the NBA Finals. Considering how good he was against Phoenix, I wouldn’t put it past him to find that next gear.