The last time Steve Curry lifted the NBA trophy, in 2018, Luka Doncic was a 19-year-old boy who had just landed in the States. The Slovenian had signed that summer in project by the Atlanta Hawks and immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Four years later, Carey and Doncic meet in the Western Conference final. The encounter between the two stars is the clash between the legendary veteran and one of the characters called the future of the NBA. It is the end of the childhood of El Niño Maravilla.
Doncic (Ljubljana, 1999) has been calling the phenomenon and genius since before he came of age, and faces an uphill road against Golden State, who top the series 2-0 with the next two games to be played in Dallas on Sunday and Tuesday. . Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green capitalized on experience in the second half of Friday’s game and turned around in the match as the Mavs defense blew up a 19-point lead. “We will believe until the end,” said the Slovenian, who scored 43 points in the second game.
There is anxiety in the Dallas camp, as the star had a bad night after the first game (defeating Dallas 112-87), not sleeping and vomiting due to stomach issues. On Friday, he admitted that he also suffers from pain in his right shoulder, although he emphasized that it was “not a serious matter”.
The disadvantage is not insurmountable for Doncic, who has led Dallas through the playoffs for three consecutive years. The Mavericks have defeated the Warriors in three of four games played in the regular season. Also, Match 7 against the Phoenix Suns, the first team in the West, is still fresh in fans’ memories. The point guard, who averaged 28.4 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists per game, his best mark since 2019, was the hangman at the end of the streak. He scored 35 points, 27 of them in the first half, the same number as the entire Arizona team in the first half. He spent the entire match smiling after sending the ball to the hoop. It was a humiliating home finish for Chris Paul and Devin Booker, who started the semi-finals with two wins over Texas.
Luka, the son of world dance champion Miriam Potterpin, and Slovenian basketball player Sasha Doncic, grew up with basketball among his childhood things. At three months he was already visiting the stadiums at his father’s games and at six he started shooting from medium range and learning tactics on the field.
Doncic used to keep going despite being on the verge of falling. He’s been part of his mindset since he was a young talent at Real Madrid, a team he joined in 2015 and in which he played nearly 100 matches, winning two leagues, one Intercontinental Cup and one cup. Upon arriving in America, where he had barely played his fourth year and where he won the 2019 Rookie of the Year award, the European left his infamous performance on the floor in two eliminations for his team at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. Last year, he scored 46 points in a 7 game loss. And one before, those in the NBA that were played in the Disney bubble due to the pandemic, Base had a better scoring average (31) in the playoffs than Michael Jordan.
The start of this season has been the toughest for Doncic. After being eliminated by Leonard’s team, he told his country to play in the Tokyo Games. Slovenia came fourth. When the base returned to rejoin his team, everyone pointed out that he had a little meat left. “He’s running on the floor… he should lose weight,” legendary goalkeeper Reggie Miller said in a phone call. “I took three weeks off and relaxed a bit. Maybe too much,” said Doncic, who came back with 117 kilograms (he weighed 104).
“I think he didn’t like that they pointed it out,” said Mark Cuban, the businessman who owns the Mavericks. “I think he finally realized that a level of discipline is required. Athletes at that level need it. When everything is easy for you, and you are used to being the best and having all the support. Then something goes wrong and you have to reconsider,” he added. investor. However, Doncic was the leading scorer in 59 of 82 matches that season (in February he scored 51 points against the Clippers). He changed his diet and lost what was left. Dallas also dropped the ballast in February by sending Christaps Porzingis to Washington for Spencer Dinwiddy. The plan worked with Jason Kidd, who after making the team gave Dallas its first post-season win by eliminating Utah.
Dallas was the only-time champion in 2011 with another European legend, Dirk Nowitzki. The German retired in 2019, the first season of the Slovenian. Then he handed the witness over to Luca. “I’ve tried to be his mentor a little bit. She’s obviously pretty good already. It’s already better than I was,” said Nowitzki in April, who likes to think what kind of team Dallas would have been if the two met up. “.
Doncic’s job will be to raise the profile of Dallas in the future of the NBA. His name began to be repeated more and more often in the conversations of the greatest talents in the league. In the vote for Player of the Year, Doncic came in fifth behind Nikola Djokic, who repeated the award; Joel Embiid Philadelphia; Giannis Anticonmo of Bucks and Devin Booker. There seems to be a consensus that Luca’s time has come. Before that, Stephen Curry and some warriors who marked an era await him.
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