Mavs Players Called Out After Luka Doncic Matches Michael Jordan Record in Suns LossMay 3, 2022
The Dallas Mavericks have been a single-superstar team for the entirety of Luka Doncic's NBA career, but that has rarely been more evident than in their 121-114 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday night.
Doncic dropped 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting and picked up 12 rebounds and eight assists in 44 minutes. He was playing just his fourth game since returning from a calf injury suffered in the regular-season finale on April 10.
The three-time All-Star is now tied with Michael Jordan for the highest scoring average in NBA playoff history.
Despite Doncic's best efforts to carry the Mavs, his supporting cast left a lot to be desired. The other four starters combined to score 39 points and made four of 14 attempts from behind the arc.
Maxi Kleber had an efficient scoring game off the bench (19 points, 5-of-8 three-point shooting), but he also had the worst plus-minus rating on the team (minus-16) in just 25 minutes.
Mavs head coach Jason Kidd acknowledged after the loss that the rest of the team needs to get involved to ease some of the pressure on Doncic.
"He got whatever he wanted, when you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also I thought he got his teammates some great looks that we normally had made," Kidd said. "I thought he played great. We've just got to get someone to join the party."
Jalen Brunson, who has evolved into a solid No. 2 option for the team this season, failed to show up on Monday. The 25-year-old had his lowest-scoring game of the postseason in Game 1 with 13 points.
The Suns won all three matchups between the two teams during the regular season, though this was their first meeting since Jan. 20 and Doncic didn't play in the first two games.
The Suns' Devin Booker isn't playing up to his usual standard as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He was 7-of-20 from the field with 23 points.
Dallas' defense, though, allowed the Suns to make 50.5 percent of their field-goal attempts.
Defense is supposed to be the Mavs' biggest strength. They ranked in the top 10 in points allowed (104.7 per game) and defensive rating (109.4) during the regular season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
If there is one silver lining for Dallas going forward, it can reasonably expect this kind of performance from Doncic the rest of the series. Brunson, Kleber, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith have to step up to give the Mavs a chance against a great opponent.
Dallas will attempt to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.