On Monday night, Luka Doncic made NBA history. After two impressive seasons in the league, the Slovenian guard finally made his playoff debut; unsurprisingly, he didn’t disappoint. While the Mavericks lost the opening game of their series to the Clippers, Doncic more than did his part, pouring in a record-setting 42 points.
After the game, however, Doncic wasn’t interested in his place in the NBA record books. In fact, the young Mavericks star said his game was “terrible,” despite the impressive stat line.
Luka Doncic didn’t miss a beat in his playoff debut
If you’ve watched Luka Doncic during his first two seasons in the NBA, you’ll know that the Slovenian has some serious talent. Unsurprisingly, that reality didn’t change in the playoffs.
After Doncic made the move from Real Madrid to North America, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle predicted that the young guard could grow into a franchise player. It’s safe to say that the Slovenian sensation has already exceeded those expectations; after cruising to the 2019 Rookie of the Year title, Doncic improved across the board in 2020, averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
On Monday night, Doncic reaffirmed his stat status. During his postseason debut, he dropped 42 points while dishing out nine assists and pulling down seven rebounds; while the Mavericks lost the game, the guard set an NBA record for the most points in a postseason debut.
Luka Doncic called his record-setting performance ‘terrible’
After the game, it was inevitable that Luka Doncic would be asked about his historic night. While most players would have probably offered a cliche response about records being cool but less important than a win, the young European didn’t pull any punches.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Donic had no time for patting himself on the back during his postgame press conference. “Terrible,” the guard said when was asked about his performance. “I had 11 turnovers. I never had that much. I just want to win.”
While the guard did have 11 turnovers, his stats do come with one main caveat. Beyond the circumstances—Doncic played through some pain early in the game and had to shoulder the entirety of the load after Kristaps Porzingis’ ejection—the Clippers are a tough team with some legitimate defensive stoppers. Although no one wants to finish the game with double-digit turnovers, it’s not like the Slovenian guard was attempting needless behind-the-back passes and launching the ball into the fourth row.
What comes next for the Dallas Mavericks?
While Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks put up an impressive fight on Monday night, they ultimately lost the game. Depending on your perspective, you can either come away from that result feeling positively or negatively.
On one hand, the Mavs made the game a close contest despite things going against them. As mentioned above, Doncic committed 11 turnovers, and Porzingis didn’t finish the game; Dallas also found themselves in a massive hole to start the game but still managed to fight back. If they can come within eight points of victory in those circumstances, they’ll have to like their chances in a more ‘normal’ game.
At the same time, though, the Clippers still came out on top and grabbed the early advantage. 538 gives LA a 93% chance of winning the series; while an upset is never impossible, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will probably be too much for Dallas over the course of four to seven games.
Based on Monday night’s performance, though, basketball fans should be in for a treat, independent of the results. If Luka Doncic made history in a “terrible” game, who knows what he’ll do later in the series.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference