Why Luka Doncic is having a legacy-defining playoff run

Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

Be honest, did you think the Western Conference Finals would begin like this? The Dallas Mavericks have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves, thanks in large part to stellar play from All-NBA talent Luka Doncic. Despite being banged up, the 25-year-old has put together a legacy-defining run that got even more intriguing as he drained a game-winning triple in Game 2.

Doncic’s play is made even more impressive given the team’s he’s had to face and by how seamlessly he’s meshed with his supporting cast.

“As you’ve seen with Luka, he loves that stage. He doesn’t run from it," Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told the AP after the Mavericks’ most recent win. "I thought he was great the whole game, keeping guys together, his energy.”

Why Luka Doncic is having a legacy-defining playoff run

Dallas has not had an easy playoff path. As the West’s fifth seed, they had to battle Paul George, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. Even though Leonard dealt with right knee inflammation and did not play the entire set, LA’s other stars are not easy outs.

Nevertheless, Doncic and the Mavericks were able to advance to the second round for a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that finished the regular season third in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. If that wasn’t scary enough, OKC’s Shai Gilgeous Alexander finished second in MVP voting while averaging 30.1 points and 6.2 assists during the regular season.

The Mavs bested the Thunder in a six-game series, and are now on the doorstep of an NBA Finals appearance. Doncic has been a revelation in the Western Conference Finals against an Anthony Edwards-charged Timberwolves team.

Through two games, Doncic averaged 32.5 points while co-existing with teammates such as Kyrie Irving, Derek Lively II, and P.J. Washington.

Never was this more apparent than in Game 2 when the Timberwolves trailed by as many as 18 points, but rallied to grab their second straight road win of the series. Along the way, Doncic helped the Mavs shoot 60.5% from the floor in the second half by recording 13 total assists.

“First to four. Nothing’s won,” Doncic told the AP. “You’ve just got to think about next game — not in the future, just this game.”

None of the Mavericks’ opponents have been pushovers. Each squad they’ve faced has had at least one major star who could take control at any given moment. Doncic has led the Mavericks this far with his scoring brilliance and willingness to playmake when necessary.

This is not Luka Doncic’s first playoff run, but this go around feels like it could result in a much different outcome, one that could forever alter how Doncic is viewed by both pundits and his peers.