Despite being ridiculously outmatched, the Dallas Mavericks have not yet bent the knee to the L.A. Clippers -- and that's in no small part due to Luka Doncic.
In Game 4, specifically, he put on an amazing show that included a 40-point triple-double and a game-winning buzzer-beater.
Considering the Clipper's defense, many have questioned why they have been unable to stop Doncic for most of the series. That play in particular saw Luka being guarded by Reggie Jackson instead of the team's best defender in Kawhi Leonard.
On ESPN's First Take, Max Kellerman raved about Dallas' shooting repertoire, saying that Luka wasn't the only one on the team capable of hitting that shot to win the game. Stephen A., however, noted that not everybody could handle the moment and that doubling Doncic was the only answer for the defense on that play.
Things got pretty heated on the set...
Max: "Don't let Doncic beat you... Stephen A., you're acting like nobody else could beat you. Yeah, double Doncic, make sure Kahwi doesn't switch off on him, all that stuff. The bottom line is, they got a team full of shooters that will make you pay."
Smith: "You just proved my point! You should no be allowed to talk basketball, just off of what you just said. Everybody knows Luka Doncic has got the ball, you have to get the ball out of his hands, you have to take your chances with everybody else because they're not used to the moment. NO matter how good you are, the moment matters! Not with him [Luka] though, not with him."
Indeed, the moment didn't seem to matter to Doncic, who single-handedly lifted Dallas to victory in Game 4. Just a day later, ahead of Game 5, Mr. Kellerman went on to say that Kawhi was "out" of the conversation for the best player in the world if he and the Clips got bounced by Dallas.
Max: "Could you imagine if the Clippers get knocked out in the first round? As I said, Giannis, LeBron, KD, there are some guys where it's just a feeling watching them -- that's a transcendent talent. Because Kawhi had to work to get himself there, people are quicker to dismiss him. If he gets bumped in the first round by the Mavs, the talk about him being the best player in the NBA is going to be over, unless the Mavs go on to win the whole thing."
Obviously, the Clippers responded big in Game 5, dominating the match to win by over 40 points. While the series is not yet over, Kawhi (to his credit) has shown us why he and his team deserve to be counted amongst the best in the league.
We'll see how they fare in the next round -- if they get there.