As the championship-contending LA Clippers closed out their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks with a 111-97 Game 6 victory, curtains came down on Luka Doncic's first NBA playoffs.
The 21-year-old Slovenian sensation did more than just impress, putting up stellar numbers and quite often single-handedly carrying his team to competitiveness or in some cases, the win. At the end of the series, he even earned the high praise and respect of reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard:
"He's a great player … battled every minute he was out there on the floor, didn't back down. Led his team every game and he did a hell of a job out there."- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 30, 2020
- Kawhi on Luka Doncic pic.twitter.com/XHxJ5VVvAz
Through the six games, he averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals on 50.0% shooting from the field.
Courtesy of those numbers, he became the fifth player in NBA history to average at least 30.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists for a playoff series, however, he is the first player ever to do so in their first playoffs appearance.
In his first NBA postseason, on a bad ankle nonetheless, Doncic showcased that he's a veteran of playing in the playoffs at the professional level. The 6'7" guard from Slovenia set and broke multiple records in his first go-around in the NBA playoffs. We compile all of them.
Stat line: 42 PTS (13-21 FGs; 2-6 3Ps; 14-15 FTs), 9 ASTS, 7 REBS, 3 STLS
It was a rough first 3:30 minutes in the playoffs for Doncic. He committed five of the team's six turnovers and the Clippers had gotten off to a 18-2 start. What's worse, he seemed to have hurt his left leg.
After getting that re-taped in the locker room, Doncic began playing at the MVP-caliber level we were all accustomed to. He sparked the Mavericks to a 28-13 run (scoring or assisting on 25 of the team's 28 points), part of a larger 48-18 run.
He finished the game with 42 points, the most points by any player in NBA history on playoff debut. His game-high points tally were also the most scored by any Mavericks player since Dirk Nowitzki in 2011.
Luka Dončić had 42 points tonight, marking the most points in a playoff debut by any player in @NBA history.- Mavs PR (@MavsPR) August 18, 2020
Dončić is the 1st 21-year-old to record 40+ points in a playoff game since LeBron James in 2006, and is only the 4th 21-year-old to do it (Tracy McGrady, Magic Johnson). pic.twitter.com/2vgQJhbI4q
Stat line: 28 PTS, 8 REBS, 7 ASTS
In Game 2, the Mavericks offence caught fire and Doncic just did his bit as the team raced to a wire-to-wire victory, thus, leveling the series.
Needing to play just 28 minutes, Doncic's increased his playoff career points tally to 70 - the most by a player since the NBA/ABA merger through the first two career postseason games.
Luka Dončić finished tonight's win with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists tonight.- Mavs PR (@MavsPR) August 20, 2020
Dončić has recorded the most points (70) in his first two playoff games of anyone since the NBA/ABA merger. pic.twitter.com/97T4P7xPku
Stat line: 13 PTS, 10 REBS, 10 ASTS
Late in the third quarter, Doncic turned his left ankle and was forced to head back to the locker room. He returned to play for a few minutes in the fourth but checked out once again, this time for good. Post-game, the Mavericks announced the injury to be a right ankle sprain.
Despite the shortened playing time, he couldn't be kept out of the record books.
Luka Dončić has become the first player in Mavericks franchise history to record a triple-double in the playoffs following that rebound.- Mavs PR (@MavsPR) August 22, 2020
Dončić (21 years, 175 days) becomes the third-youngest player ever to record a triple-double in the playoffs (Magic Johnson, LeBron James). pic.twitter.com/9RhQhfW0UH
Stat line: 43 PTS, 17 REBS, 13 ASTS (all playoff career-highs)
A game for the ages. Given the circumstances, arguably one of the greatest individual performances in NBA playoff history. The young stud broke way too many records to list them down. Here's a short list of them all:
» 3rd player ever with 40-15-10 in the playoffs (Oscar, Barkley)- Mavs PR (@MavsPR) August 24, 2020
» joined LeBron as only 21yo's to record a 30pt triple-double in playoffs
» only player with more than 1 triple-double in playoffs this year
» 2nd-longest postseason GW buzzer-beater (28ft), only behind Dame (37ft) pic.twitter.com/NVXQC8hOMk
A few additional anecdotes not mentioned in the two tweets embeded above:
- Doncic became only the ninth player ever to record consecutive playoff triple-doubles.
- He joined Magic Johnson and LeBron James as the only players to ever have multiple playoff triple-doubles at the age of 21 or younger.
- His game-winner gave the Mavericks their largest comeback victory in franchise history (21 points) and the Slovenian led them to victory, on a bad ankle, without their other young superstar in Kristaps Porzingis (knee).
Games 5 & 6
Box Score: 22 PTS, 8 REBS, 4 ASTS - Game 5; 38 PTS, 9 REBS, 9 ASTS - Game 6
Continuing to play on his bad ankle and without Porzingis, Doncic did all he could but with the Clippers beginning to find their groove, the Mavericks were outmatched.
In Game 5, they lost by 43 points. In Game 6, Doncic nearly recorded a third triple-double but the team still lost in convincing fashion 111-97.
Despite the last couple of games, it's very safe to say that the Doncic still has plenty of potential in order to get even better than he already is - something his head coach Rick Carlisle said after the team was eliminated.
"He's one of the toughest players that I've ever seen in the league, and that goes back 35 or 36 years," Carlisle stated. "I expect that he'll come back next year even better with something new in his game."
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