Luka Doncic is one of the best players in the NBA today. He has already been a top-five MVP candidate for the last three seasons and has attracted a lot of attention from opposing defenses that try to limit his production.
Nobody knows more about limiting Luka Doncic than Patrick Beverley, who was on the LA Clippers team that handed the Mavericks consecutive first-round exits in Doncic's only two playoff appearances. While Doncic did get Beverley benched for stretched in last year's series, his Clippers still won and went on to the Conference Finals.
There is professional animosity between the players that was on display during the Mavericks win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Beverley had a good defensive showing on Doncic, holding him to a poor scoring night and even slapping him on the behind after a defensive stop. Former NBA player Jalen Rose was critical of Luka for not retaliating to the apparent disrespect.
"There's levels to trash talk and being an irritant. Luka, and I'm sure hindsight is 20/20, but if you irritate me, invade my personal space, I can smell your breath and even some of your spit is getting on me, that ain't the time to smack me on the butt. I'm not having that. I would be trying to break his wrist, literally by trying to sway it away or grapple it away. I'm also not giving you a high five during that period of time."
Rose is not wrong, but Doncic has always let his play do the talking (unless he is talking to the referees). Beverley is an irritant, but the 23-year old Mav is competing with the superstars of the league. However, it does look like Luka enjoys playing against Beverley.
These teams will face each other again on Friday, so maybe Luka's best response will be to have a big scoring night and lead his team to a dominant win, especially as he is being rested in the Mavs' next game against the Houston Rockets.