This Game 7 is huge for Luka Dončić.
The young superstar has cemented himself as one of the best players in the league and now has a legitimate argument for being one of the top 5 best players in the world.
In only his third season in the league, he’s averaging 34 points, 9.7 assists, and 8 rebounds per game during this playoff run. The numbers are astronomical. His current playoff averages for his career are 32.5 points, 9.2 assists, and 8.9 rebounds a night.
Every game he’s played in the postseason has been against Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. Last season when the Mavericks faced the Clippers in the bubble, there were no expectations for that Dallas team to take down the title favorites, yet Luka still gave L.A. a hard-fought six-game series.
This season is a little bit different, which is why this Game 7 is so important. Luka is no longer the new kid on the block. He’s a perennial superstar, and he won’t be given the benefit of the doubt as an underdog much longer. Especially not in a series where his team had a 2-0 lead going back to home court, then failed to close out what could have been a deciding Game 6.
Luka was mostly nonexistent down the stretch of Game 6. Even though he finished with 29 points, he was very passive and had no answer for Leonard in the fourth quarter, when Kawhi was giving his team bucket after bucket.
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This is the first Game 7 of Luka’s career and it will tell us a lot about who this player really is. Losing a 2-0 lead and folding in a closeout game 6 could put an early stain on his career if he doesn’t push his team to victory in this game, especially if he’s tentative again like he was in Game 6.
Just ask LeBron James about how that annoying narrative followed him through his career.
Luka needs to show everyone that he can rip a team’s heart out when it matters. This Game 7 against the Clippers will give him the perfect opportunity.