At just 20 years of age, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks has emerged as a full-blown superstar. In 34.9 minutes per game, the native of Slovenia is averaging 28.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 9.1 assists, while the 7-5 Mavs stand firmly in the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
The fact that he’s playing this well shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering Doncic’s resume. Before arriving in the NBA at age 19, he was already a Euroleague MVP and led Slovenia, a country with a population of two million, to a European championship.
While there were some questions regarding how Doncic’s skills and personality would translate to the NBA, there are no longer any doubters left anywhere in the world.
Thankfully, for the San Antonio Spurs, they actually have players to throw at Doncic. Derrick White defended him well at times last season and now, with the return of Dejounte Murray, the Spurs have two players who head coach Gregg Popovich can stick on Doncic. While the Slovenian is a big 6-foot-7, White and Murray should at least make life difficult for him.
Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks other main player, will likely begin the game with Trey Lyles defending him. While Porzingis is 7-foot-3, he spends a lot of time on the perimeter, so the Spurs will likely avoid having LaMarcus Aldridge defend him. For that reason, even Rudy Gay could be matched up against Porzingis for stretches tonight unless the Mavs go with Porzingis strictly at center.
The Last Time the Spurs Lost Six Straight Games
The Spurs need to win tonight against the Mavs in order to avoid losing their sixth straight game. The last time the Spurs lost six straight games was near the end of the 2010-11 regular season. That stretch started when Tim Duncan had to sit out due to injury.
However, times were much different then for San Antonio. That losing streak knocked the Spurs down from 57-13 to 57-19. Despite the late season stumble, the Silver and Black still coasted to a 61-21 record, the best record in the Western Conference that season.
Mavericks Dormant No Longer?
Dallas hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. Since then, Dirk Nowitzki retired and the Mavs have turned the page to a new era. With their relatively strong start this season, it looks like they could be headed back to the postseason.
The Spurs have made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons. Since 2000, the second longest postseason streak of any team in the league was 12 consecutive seasons by the Mavs from 2001 to 2012.