Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic: Dirk Nowitzki’s successor

Man could have seen it coming a few days before. When the Dallas Mavericks clearly kept their opponent at a distance in the sixth game of the quarterfinals series. And when her best man looked like he was about to warm up.

But what Luka Dončić did last Sunday stunned even the most experienced NBA playoff basketball connoisseurs. The Slovene formally presented the strongest team of the regular season in their own hall.

The audience is amazed

He literally scored 27 points for the Phoenix Suns in the first half and responded to almost every shot with a provocative chuckle.

A signal that demonstrated both the opponents and the amazed audience what kind of guy they had come across – a 23-year-old with the makings of a world star, who was always much better than his peers, but only this year found the key to great success.

The Phoenix Suns have not yet found a reasonable explanation for the 90:123 collapse, in which they even fell 46 points behind. And America’s sports commentators also lacked the right words afterwards. Most were simply shocked because they hadn’t believed the Mavericks could perform with such self-confidence.

And Doncic? For him, the exceptional talent who had demonstrated his unusual ability with every turn and every throw, the general helplessness was more right. “Honestly, I think that was deserved,” he said with a grin on his face, leaving others to rack their brains.

Nowitzki: “What did I tell you?”

In his fourth and best NBA season to date, Dončić demonstrated just how well the Dallas Mavericks picked when they traded the then 19-year-old to Texas on draft day 2018 with the Atlanta Hawks.

The team had been mediocre since winning the title in 2011, the highlight of Dirk Nowitzki’s long career, and have been looking for a new figurehead to bring about a return to the league elite. Nowitzki was in Phoenix on Sunday and enjoyed the moment. He embraced the Blessed One and said only: “What have I told you?”

Manager: Luka Dončić

Bild: picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

As much as the Mavericks may have achieved this season with their playoff successes over the Utah Jazz and the Suns, how good the team of coach Jason Kidd, one of Nowitzki’s companions from 2011, really is, will probably only be revealed in the next show round.

After all, the team is no longer classified as an outsider before the semi-final series against the Golden State Warriors that begins on Thursday (3 a.m. on DAZN). The two had ended the regular season as neighbors (the Warriors third, the Mavericks fourth) and Dallas had won three of their four games against each other.

It’s all down to Wiggins

However, Golden State should be able to limit Dončić’s radius of action. They have Canadian Andrew Wiggins, who has consistently outperformed since the start of his professional career in 2015 and was named to the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time in 2022.

Andrew Wiggins (left) is said to disrupt Luka Dončić's circles.

Andrew Wiggins (left) is said to disrupt Luka Dončić’s circles.

Bild: USA TODAY Sports

Wiggins revealed on Monday how difficult the job is. The Slovenian is “difficult to keep in check”. Paralyzing him is the task of the entire team.

The Mavericks don’t just feed on a single player either. For example, the two point guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson contributed to the impressive points tally against the Suns.

And over the course of the series, Würzburg’s Maxi Kleber also repeatedly delivered important pieces of the puzzle to success, be it on the defensive with his rebounds or on the offensive, in which he contributed an average of 9.9 points. The Mavericks supporters celebrated him as the unsung hero of the third game win. It was the encounter that turned the series around.



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