“Fun Factor” fuels Luka Doncic to new triple-double milestone in Game 1 win

2021-05-23T12:39:58+00:00 2021-05-23T04:06:30+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

23/May/21 12:39

Eurohoops.net

Luka Doncic was heaps of fun in his playoffs opener. Unless you were a Clipper.

By Antonis Stroggylakis / info@eurohoops.net

Back in February and when the Dallas Mavericks were trying to lick their wounds following a six-game losing streak, Luka Doncic was in a “Desperately Seeking the Fun” mode. He was looking to re-discover one of the defining aspects of his game and an element that has been feeding him since he first touched a ball.

Since then, the Mavericks dig themselves out of the hole of that skid, made the playoffs and the “Fun” has been officially back for their young leader. He let everyone know with his performance in the Game 1 113 – 103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and the wide-open smile he carried in the aftermath of the game.

“It was great,” Doncic said after the match. “Playoffs is fun and they are especially more fun if you win obviously. It’s fun basketball.”  This time the “Fun” produced game-highs 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, which marked Doncic’s third triple-double in the NBA playoffs. Per NBA History, the 22-year-old All-Star became the first player ever to have this number of triple-doubles over seven postseason games.

There’s a reason why Doncic uses that word so much. Having “Fun” and the pure enjoyment of  the game are essential to him and even though he can calculate and execute plays like a machine, he’s still driven by passion and emotions. Something that, as he’s admitted, doesn’t always work to his benefit.

He had one of these moments against the Clippers when he was called to the bench after he committed his third foul six minutes into the second half. He didn’t look particularly happy about it.

The final tally didn’t include any more fouls for Luka who returned to the floor to bury a triple for his 30th point and drop dimes to his teammates. To the Clippers’ relief, he went cold in the fourth, adding only one point to his statline.

He didn’t really care much about it anyway.

“They were double-teaming in all my possessions,” Doncic said when asked if he was tired in the fourth period. “My legs are kind of like… sore. We won the game. That’s all that matters for me. If I have zero or 15 points in the last quarter.”

Doncic dismantled the Clippers’ defense either by making buckets at will or by getting his teammate involved, earning the praise of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle about how well he commanded the team’s offense.

“Luka has seen virtually every coverage known to mankind, every kind of double team, every kind of switching scenario & double teaming 30 feet away from the basket,” Carlisle said.

“I think I just got to adjust,” Doncic answered when asked how he handled the different types of defensive schemes that the Clippers threw at him. “When they don’t double – attack it. When they double, somebody’s going to be open. I just want to read the game.” During some of those reads, Doncic punished the Clippers’ switches on him by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers. He finished with 5-11 from beyond the arc, a new record for him in the playoffs.

“I’m only my third season, I still have a lot to learn,” Doncic later mentioned. “We just go out there, have fun and try to win the game.”

Doncic will try to bring the “Fun” once more for him and the Mavs in Game 2 vs. the Clippers which will take place Tuesday.

Photo: Getty Images