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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 8, 2024 7:13 pm

Luguentz Dort, Thunder ready to limit Luka Doncic, Mavs in Game 2

thunder, mavericks

Before the start of a Western Conference second-round playoff series between the Thunder and Mavericks, Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said the plan to slow down Dallas star Luka Doncic was simple.

“Just make sure Lu (Dort) is on time for the game,” Daigneault said.

Dort showed up on time for Game 1 of the series, and he will look to do the same on Thursday night when the host Thunder and Mavericks meet for Game 2.

Oklahoma City leads the series 1-0 after the Thunder’s 117-95 victory Tuesday, when Doncic was just 6-for-19 from the floor and 1-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“He had some good looks from the 3-point line, so we’ve got to help him out,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “We have to get Dort off of (Doncic) a little bit better. We had some offensive fouls when we were setting screens on him (Tuesday), so we’ll look at that to see if we can be better in that area.”

In seven playoff games this year, Doncic is just 17-for-75 (22.7 percent) from beyond the arc.

“Just gotta move on to the next one,” Doncic said. “I’ve gotta be better. We’ve gotta be better. We gotta focus. They’re a great team, a great defensive team, so it’s not going to be easy at all.”

Dort has been one of the driving forces of Oklahoma City’s success during its 5-0 start to the playoffs, and the Thunder have held opponents to just 90.6 points per game.

In a first-round series against New Orleans, Dort helped slow down Pelicans star Brandon Ingram. Dort has already been pesky against Doncic, who is battling a right knee sprain. Doncic was just 1-for-3 from the floor with three points when Dort was his primary defender in the series opener.

“He’s just a warrior,” Daigneault said of Dort. “Brings the juice every single night. Doncic is a really hard matchup and a great player that didn’t have his best pitch (Tuesday). He’s going to play better than this. Lu made it hard on him.”

Doncic is probable for Thursday’s game due to his knee ailment.

Kyrie Irving led the Mavericks with 20 points on Tuesday, but his performance was far from enough for Dallas to overcome Doncic’s struggles and the success of Thunder frontman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander had 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists while going 11-for-13 from the free-throw line.

“For me and my teammates, we just have to continue to attack and continue to play downhill,” Irving said. “The pressure they were putting on us was definitely attributed to their excitement. There’s some things to look back on, but their defensive pressure is not going to stop, so we’ve just got to adjust.”

The Thunder had 29 assists on Tuesday, their most in a playoff game since the franchise has been in Oklahoma City.

“We had a good blend of aggression and also taking what the defense gave us, keeping them on their heels, keeping the ball ahead of them,” Daigneault said. “They’re really good when you slow down and you allow them to kind of scheme and calibrate.”

–Field Level Media

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