73-Point Masterpiece: Can Doncic do it all by himself despite poor Mavericks defense?

Luka Doncic literally carries the game of Dallas, can he with the help of Irving cover all the shortcomings of Mavericks

by Sededin Dedovic
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73-Point Masterpiece: Can Doncic do it all by himself despite poor Mavericks defense?
© Tom Pennington / Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks, entering a crucial game against the Atlanta Hawks, found themselves in a precarious position last Friday. Ending a three-game losing streak and facing a challenging schedule, the Mavericks were dealt another blow as their second-best player, Kyrie Irving, suffered an injury just days earlier.

However, their star player, Luka Doncic, had a magical performance on the court against the Hawks, scoring a whopping 73 points. On the wings of Doncic, Dallas managed to achieve a hard-fought victory of 143-148. How much influence Doncic has is enough to say that he is the best scorer of the game with 73 points, while the second best is Trae Young from Atalanta with 30 points.

The game against the Hawks witnessed Doncic's amazing play and floor skills. He achieved 75% shooting accuracy, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 70 or more points with such efficiency. So far, even the greatest basketball players in history have not been able to do that, and the number of points has placed him in elite company with legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and David Thompson.

Doncic's performance was a masterpiece, a demonstration of his shooting skills and something we don't get to see that often. As the regular season draws to a close in early April, Luka Dončić is undeniably playing the best basketball of his career.

An analysis of his core stats reveals an impressive season – leading the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game, showing improved three-point shooting to 37.5%, hitting a career-high 77% free throw efficiency and maintaining a career-best true shooting percentage of 61%.

Despite the Mavericks' 26-22 record, which may not put Doncic in the immediate MVP conversation, his performances remain at an elite level. Driven by disappointments from the previous season, when the Mavericks failed to make the playoffs, Doncic became a leader on and off the court.

The team's decision to sign Kyrie Irving was intended to give Doncic a reliable partner, but the integration of their playing styles proved to be a disadvantage. Although the two of them may have functioned in the attack, the long-term defensive problems that plagued the Mavericks were perhaps the key factor in the poor results.

When Tyson Chandler left them after a few games, it was obvious that the defense was nothing, they let in too many points that even Doncic's masterful games could not compensate. Of the last 24 games in the season, Dallas won only 7 of them last year and thus lost its chances for the playoffs.

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving© Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

The Mavericks' defensive issues have hindered their overall success, and that's something they should fix. Currently ranked a disastrous 21st in defensive efficiency at 118.4 points per 100 possessions, the team has struggled to find balance.

The addition of promising rookie Derek Lively and other defensive-minded players didn't completely solve their structural problems and only made the problem worse. The team did not have an established game, so they often seemed lost against offensively strong teams.

The team's lack of height, especially without Maxi Kleber, leads to defensive mismatches that opponents exploit. It's really a shame that with this kind of offensive game, Dallas receives too many points, which is reflected in their results.

Injuries made the Mavericks' challenges even more difficult, and Doncic and Irving collectively missed numerous games. The team's health problems have led to inconsistencies in their starting lineups, making it difficult to establish rhythm and consistency for the team.

In the games he played, Doncic had to bear an increased workload, averaging a record 37.3 minutes per game. The team's concern for depth and quality defensive players is becoming apparent. With a couple of tall defensive players and a few adequate replacements for Irving and Doncic, this team would definitely now be among the top three places in its conference.

As the regular season winds down, the Mavericks' playoff chances are still there. Elite attack but below average defense and depth problems are the main problem this season as well. There is probably no team in the league with a bigger difference in quality between the two best players and the rest of the roster.

After Doncic and Irving there is a big hole, and then Lively and Hardaway Jr. Additional quality is also needed in the attack, especially under the ball, because although they give a lot of three-pointers under the ball, they are not a real danger.

It will be interesting to see if the Mavericks, with their current lineup, can make a deep playoff run? They are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference with a record of 26-22 and can still make a breakthrough.

The fact that in the last 10 games they have 4 wins and 6 losses is worrying, it must be said that the victories were hard won. It's about time Dallas got into gear more if they want to make a breakthrough this season.

Mavericks Luka Doncic
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