A calm, composed Luka Doncic has the Dallas Mavericks on the brink of a series win over the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder

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Oklahoma City Thunder players in the game during second half

A kinder, gentler Luka Doncic has the Dallas Mavericks in the same situation as they were in the first round, heading home with a chance to clinch a playoff series in Game 6.

The difference is the smile on the face of the 25-year-old superstar, replacing the scowl that often accompanies his complaints toward officials over their calls, or non-calls.

Doncic focused on other things in his third career 30-point playoff triple-double, leading the Mavericks to a 104-92 victory in Game 5 that put Western Conference No. 1 seed Oklahoma City on the brink of elimination.

Dallas can advance to the West finals for the second time in three seasons with a victory Saturday night at home, where the fifth-seeded Mavs beat the Los Angeles Clippers for a 4-2 series win two weeks ago.

Now, the Mavs will see if Doncic can keep his focus off the officials again. “I’m not going to sit up here and complain about him when you get on the refs, like the refs are perfect. I got to give my brother a little benefit of the doubt,” co-star Kyrie Irving said.

“But I think he found a healthy balance where he was just really focused on getting us going offensively and making the right plays and making sure we kept our foot on the gas pedal. That’s one of the things he’s done as an engine on this team.”

Luka Doncic reacts in the game

Doncic and Irving have struggled offensively in this series, but their defensive efforts have compensated for it.

The same goes for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s teammates on the Thunder. Although Gilgeous-Alexander, the NBA MVP runner-up, has maintained his regular season average of 30 points per game, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams have been inconsistent.

In Game 5, the Mavericks focused on stopping Gilgeous-Alexander in the lane, while Holmgren and Williams struggled from beyond the arc, making only 1 of 8 three-pointers. The Thunder shot 25% from three-point range (10 of 40).

“It’s our first playoff run, it’s their first playoff run,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “So everything’s a learning experience for everybody. Those guys are going to bounce back. They’re outstanding players that we have much confidence in.”

Dallas is close to advancing despite Irving scoring nearly 10 points below his career playoff average. The eight-time All-Star only scored twice in his first 80 playoff games in single digits, but has done so multiple times in this series.


By Brian Anderson

Hi myself Brian, I am a second-year student at Symbiosis Centre of Management Studies, Noida, pursuing a BBA degree. I am a multi-faceted individual with a passion for various hobbies, including cricket, football, music, and sketching. Beyond my hobbies, I possess a keen interest in literature, particularly fictional books, and channels my creativity into content writing. I am constantly exploring the realms of both business administration and the world of imagination through my diverse pursuits.

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