The Philadelphia 76ers were ahead for a good portion of the game on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks as they got off to a good start, despite a lengthy delay at the start of the game due to an uneven rim, but then, it fell apart in the second half.
The Mavericks outscored Philadelphia 54-35 after halftime and it was mostly due to the stellar play of star guard Luka Doncic on their way to a 107-98 win over the Sixers. The Mavs star finished with 33 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds with 18 of those 33 points coming after halftime and 11 in the pivotal third quarter alone.
Coach Doc Rivers noticed that Doncic began to get it going late in the first half when he got into a groove with both his passing and his scoring.
“I thought he took over the end of the second,” said Rivers. “I thought that’s where during games you fall on something that works. They fell on a set and they stayed with it. They executed the hell out of it.”
Rivers made an adjustment by sending more pressure towards Doncic like blitzing him and that seemed to work, but he then made his own adjustment and he was able to take advantage of some opportunities presented to him.
“Even in that, he was good,” Rivers admitted. “He’s so big. I do like blitzing him at times. I don’t like blitzing him—he’s very similar to LeBron (James). He’s such a great passer and he just holds the ball at the last minute. He was toying with some of the blitzes. So he’s not a guy that I actually loved blitzing, but I do think it’s good at times.”
Seth Curry, who made his return after missing a game, echoed Rivers’ thoughts about Doncic. Curry did play with Doncic before coming to Philadelphia so he does have experience with the Dallas star.
“Luka was a big struggle for us,” said Curry. “He was doing everything, picking us apart on the defensive end, scoring, getting his teammates involved, getting to the paint. When he missed, guys would come over and contest. Guys would be crashing and getting the offensive rebound. He was just doing what he wanted out there. It was just tough sledding for us. They got a good rhythm and we couldn’t slow them down like they did us in that second quarter.”
There is a lot that Doncic can do out on the floor. He can shoot the ball, score at a high clip, get his teammates involved, and he has good size to where he can rebound it very well which can cause issues. The Sixers did not have an answer at all on Friday.
“He’s pretty good,” said Georges Niang. “He can stretch your defense with his ability to shoot the ball. He can pass, he can rebound, he can do a lot of things out there. So, obviously, we tried to throw switches out and blitzes, but, there’s a reason why he’s is who he is and has accomplished what he’s accomplished.”
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