Coming into Game 5 of the Dallas Mavericks’ first round match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers, it was clear that Luka Doncic was far from one hundred percent. 

The 25-year-old guard injured his knee early on in Game 3 and has been dealing with an illness for almost a week.

With their series tied though at 2-2, Doncic made it a point to suit up for the Mavericks despite his condition and turned in one of the most impressive performances of his career so far to help them take a 123-93 road victory over the Clippers. Doncic hit 14-of-26 field goals to finish with a game-high 35 points while he also recorded seven rebounds, 10 assists, and a steal.


What made his performance even more special was that he managed to outscore Los Angeles’ three remaining stars by himself. The Clippers’ trio of Paul George, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook have a combined total of 28 NBA All-Star game appearances, but managed to score, coincidentally, a mere between the three of them 28 points in Game 5.

The shot creation and pinpoint passing of Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Dante Exum was particularly crucial in this win. They recorded 20 of Dallas’ 27 assists on a night when the team committed just eight turnovers. Los Angeles’ numbers paled in comparison as they recorded a paltry 18 assists versus 13 turnovers in the blowout.

The Mavericks’ quartet of Derrick Jones Jr. (12 points on five-of-seven shots), Daniel Gafford (Eight points on four attempts), Dereck Lively II (12 points on five-of-five shooting), and Maxi Kleber (15 points on five-of-seven three-pointers) all shot efficiently from the field to maximize the opportunities created by their teammates.

These role players must keep this up if Dallas is to make a deep postseason run as their shotmaking punishes opposing defenses from focusing too much on Doncic and Irving. What makes these Mavericks especially dangerous is that they not only know their role behind Doncic and Irving, but fully embrace it.

Dallas now has a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven and are in a prime position to close out Los Angeles with Game 6 set to be played on their home floor at the American Airlines Center. They must come into this next game focused on closing out in order to give Doncic some time to recover before the second round begins.

This Mavericks team is out to prove that they are legitimate contenders and the first test towards achieving this legitimacy comes in this next contest where they have the opportunity to take care of business and move on to the Western Conference Semifinals.