Kawhi Leonard Says Luka Doncic Did a 'Hell of a Job' in Mavs vs. Clippers Series

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard (2) fouls Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic (77) during the second half of an NBA first round playoff game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

It's not very often a player on a team that loses in the first round of the playoffs in six games is the biggest storyline of the series, but the argument can be made that was the case for Luka Doncic as his Dallas Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard gave the 21-year-old his props after the Clippers won Sunday's Game 6 111-97.

"He's a great player," Leonard said in his postgame interview. He "battled every minute he was out there on the floor, didn't back down. Led his team every game and he did a hell of a job out there."

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“He’s a great player … battled every minute he was out there on the floor, didn’t back down. Led his team every game and he did a hell of a job out there.” - Kawhi on Luka Doncic https://t.co/XHxJ5VVvAz

Even without Patrick Beverley, the Clippers have a number of impressive defenders who focused on stopping Doncic. Even more of that focus was on him since Kristaps Porzingis played in just three of the games, one of which he was ejected from following a second technical foul.

Yet Doncic proceeded to become the first player to average 30 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in his first postseason:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

First player ever to average 30/8/8 in his first playoff run. Only the beginning. #MFFL https://t.co/ENlTmV2MMG

He was excellent again in Sunday's final game, posting 38 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and taking over for a stretch in the third quarter to lead the Mavericks back to within striking distance after they fell behind by more than 20.

It was more of the same for the All-Star guard who finished with a 43-point triple-double in Game 4, including a buzzer-beater three-pointer to even the series at two games apiece, and consistently beat the Clippers with his floaters, step-backs and drives into the lane.

L.A. simply had more talent on its side, largely thanks to the presence of Leonard.

After the Mavericks pulled to within six points, Leonard took over in the fourth quarter with a mix of mid-range shots and powerful drives to the rim. He was unstoppable and ended any comeback hopes for Dallas on his way to 33 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

He led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in franchise history last season and could do the same for the Clippers if Sunday's showing was any indication. His team also doesn't have to worry about Doncic anymore after he led the way in the latest effort.