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Doncic and the match of a life

Statistics say that the one who wins the fifth game of a playoff series is the champion of that tie in more than 80% of the cases. A statistic that does not go down from there and that rises or falls slightly depending on the year. But that was effective again in the last Finals, when the Bucks conquered Arizona and then headed to the ring. Statistics also smile at the Mavericks: in the first round they beat the Jazz in the fifth round and sentenced the series in the sixth. In 2011, the year of the ring, they also won that match in the Conference finals against the Thunder, the day they were eliminated… and, in the Finals, when they beat some Heat that a few days before went 2-1 to go 3-2, and then win the sixth game in Florida and, of course, the ring.

It seems difficult, unlikely, almost impossible that things will end the same this year for the Mavs. Nobody counts on it. Or, rather, everyone counts that they will not succeed. And it is a supine reality that there are better teams and logical and legitimate arguments that fortify that idea. But it is also true, to make some kind of slight comparison (as far as it may be), that nobody expected that they would give such a war to the Suns, that those who have already won not only one, but two games. With 2-2 in the tie, the options are greater than when they were 1-2, 2-0 and 2-1. That’s how it is. And now he has to squeeze in a series of three games within another of seven, one in which winning two of them gives the pass to the West finals. Two wins. The same that both teams have already achieved. And a prize that the Suns await, now with doubts, and the Mavericks still see from afar, because they know that the miracle is closer. But that would not stop being a miracle.

Luka Doncic has said that “as long as there is a 1% chance, we will believe. This team is special, the bond we have is special“. Of course, we are facing a situation in which the percentage is much higher. But there is also a supine reality: the Mavericks have, they need to win in Arizona to come out on top. They’ve lost both of their series games this season there, in every game they’ve played since 2019 at Phoenix. In fact, they hadn’t beaten the Suns since that year until they did it in the third game of the tie. Before, Doncic’s 9-1 against Chris Paul (who was in the Thunder and Rockets before the Suns) since he came to the NBA, which is now 9-3. More statistics that have been falling in two games in Dallas in which the Suns have always had options, but in which they have been unequivocally inferior to their rival.

The game of the decade for the Mavs

The Texan team has not faced a match like this in more than a decade, precisely when Nowitzki and company conquered the ring. After that, the Mavs did not pass the first round again, the German completed an eternally postponed withdrawal in 2019, Doncic became the face of the franchise after being Rookie of the Year, began to add All Stars and was a constant candidate for MVP. Mark Cuban decided that his new face was another European, another Balkan, a young Slovenian player who was Euroleague MVP with Real Madrid. And he has done everything possible to please him: Haralabos Voulgaris, a man who wielded tremendous influence over him, left the franchise, just like a Rick Carlisle who lost his reputation and returned to the Pacers, an entity that knows very well. The last to leave to please Luka and for the good of the team was Kristaps Porzingis, eternally injured and in conflict with his teammate and team leader. And Doncic stayed with the ones he wanted and widened his smile openly. Because there are times that, simply, it’s time to smile.

Jason Kidd arrived with a questionable reputation and as a players coach that he was going to quickly earn Doncic’s respect. But he did more than that: the former player, champion with the Mavs as a professional in 2011, took over the players, surrounded Doncic with good shooters, demanded more from the Slovenian in defense and put together a team of young and prepared people, in addition to getting the best out of a Spencer Dinwiddie who arrived in the transfer of Porzingis and seemed to be finished. Kidd, who seems to have been delighted by his time as an assistant in the Lakers and has forgotten his fatal performances in the Nets and Bucks to go from being a player who coaches a coach who coaches. And his calm and temper, his well-chosen words at press conferences, his ability to make himself strong at home and improving from one game to another has shown that there is something more here than a historic point guard who has tried his luck on the bench. He is a technician, a coach like the top of a pine tree. A man who knows where he is, the star he has in his hands and the possibilities he has with her. “We are learning from one of the best point guards in history, the one in front of us. That is very beautiful“He said it in reference to Chris Paul and his team’s foul pick. He says what he has to say, no question about it.

The Mavericks face the Suns after a fourth game in which Luka Doncic has gone with an ignominious 1 of 10 in triples, but the entire team is 20 out of 44, 19 out of 34 if we don’t count the Slovenian. In which Dorian Finney-Smith has gone to 8 of 12 in triples (averaging 43.1% in the playoffs), Maxi Klebber to 1 of 3 (49%, with a spectacular 24 of 49) and Reggie Bullock to 2 of 5 (40% in the final phase). After two games in Dallas in which Kidd has gone over a Monty Williams overcome by the situation and does not start when Chris Paul (7 losses in game 3 and fouled out in the next) is not plugged in. The Suns have to recover a DeAndre Ayton who does not receive balls and sins of indolence, a Mikal Bridges who seems to have some physical problem and thus surround a Devin Booker who is too alone (35 points in the last round). And they have to fight against a rival who has shown that he can give a scare. The Suns’ 32-9 record at home is the best record in the NBA and the best argument for Arizona. The Mavs have to continue the same and entrust themselves to Doncic, his postings and that the released triples enter. And they can go easy. After all, they have nothing to lose. But they have so much to gain. so much to gain… A nice. Keep the party going.

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