Luka Doncic enters Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Dallas coming off a 41-point, 14-assist, 11-rebound performance in Thursday’s overtime road win over Brooklyn.
Heading into Friday’s games, Doncic’s 36.3 points per game was best in the NBA. He’s also averaging 9.5 rebounds and 9.3 assists — the only player in the NBA averaging more than 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game.
“We’re just trying to do the best we can to make his job easier out there on the floor when he gives the ball up, and the only way you can do that is knock down shots and take them with confidence and make a play,” Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said.
In Thursday’s win, Doncic had three of his four overtime assists in the first two minutes of the extra session to help the Mavericks take control.
“Obviously, Luka is probably the best guy to make tough shots and make shots when the count, but he also knows when to make the right basketball plays,” Dallas forward Maxi Kleber said. “He just has a good feel for when he should shoot himself and when he has to get other people shots.
“He just makes the right basketball plays all the time.”
Those averages will be put to the test against Oklahoma City, which comes off of a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder have won back-to-back games.
In nine career games against the Thunder, Doncic has averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
Doncic figures to spend plenty of time Saturday being guarded by Thunder guard Luguentz Dort.
After a rough start to the season, Dort broke out in Thursday’s home win over the Clippers, shooting 9 of 15 from the floor for 21 points. He was a team-high plus-18 in 34 minutes.
“Lu works so hard,” Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “When you work hard and play as hard as he does, good things happen.”
Oklahoma City’s success thus far has started on the defensive end, where it has scored a league-leading 23 points per game off of turnovers. The Thunder are also limiting damage with their own miscues, allowing just 13.2 points per game off turnovers, also an NBA-best.
Saturday’s game is the lone road game in a six-game stretch for Oklahoma City, which returns for back-to-back home games after facing the Mavericks.
The game is the second at home for the Mavericks this season. It marks the beginning of a five-game homestand for Dallas, and the start of a stretch where 10 of its next 12 will be at home.
The game is the first of three between the teams this season. Dallas won last season’s series 3-1.
The Thunder’s Josh Giddey, who is averaging 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists, has missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle. Rookie guard Jalen Williams hasn’t played since suffering a right orbital fracture in the season opener, though Daigneault said Thursday that Williams was on the brink of returning “barring any setbacks.”
Davis Bertans (knee) and Frank Ntilikina (ankle) have yet to play this season for the Mavericks.
–Field Level Media