NBA playoffs: Luka is now a force

Jay Busbee
·3 mins read
Luka, stoked. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Luka, stoked. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Morning, friends. Quite the weekend of sports, huh? Baseball, Indy 500, Stanley Cup playoffs, Champions League final, NASCAR, golf … the kind of cornucopia of sports we would’ve killed for back in April. Amidst all the chaos, though, there was a clear winner: a six-foot-seven Slovenian who just turned the NBA sideways.

Luka Doncic is just 21 years old, barely old enough to drink legally. If he wanted to rent a car — not that such an activity would be condoned in the NBA bubble — he’d need to get one of his Mavericks teammates to co-sign for him. But over the course of 48 hours, he left an indelible mark on the strangest NBA season ever.

Friday night in Game 3 of Dallas’s opening-round series against the Clippers, Doncic severely sprained his left ankle and limped to the locker room. But a few minutes later, he came back, at least attempting to play, staying in the game long enough to finish off a triple-double.

Throughout Game 3, Doncic and the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell yapped back and forth, the standard trash talk, until Harrell appeared to call Doncic a “b---- a-- White boy.”

The two seemed to bury the hatchet before Sunday's Game 4, and the line didn’t appear to bother Doncic — “No worries,” he said afterward — but you can imagine the thermonuclear heat that would erupt if a White player flipped the insult around. A suspension would be the lightest imaginable punishment. It’s the kind of thorny question the NBA is going to have to deal with in the future now that it's very clearly established itself in the progressive camp.

But that’s a thought experiment for another day. Sunday, Doncic, sprained ankle and all, turned in one of the great performances in recent playoff history, owning — and ending — one of the great games in recent playoff history.

The Clips, one of the odds-on favorites to win the championship, led the Mavs two games to one, and opened up a 21-point lead in Game 4. But then Luka took his game to another level — the second floor, you might say — and dropped 43 points, 17 boards and 13 assists on the Clippers. The capper: a buzzer-beating all-or-nothing three-pointer that gave Dallas a 135-133 victory, evening the series at two apiece.

If Doncic sticks around as long as his one-year teammate Dirk Nowitzki, he’ll be with us through the 2039-40 season. He’ll have to work hard to top the performance we saw on Sunday, but he’s got plenty of time.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at

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