It is no secret that Mavericks’ guard Luka Doncic is an offensive force to be reckoned with, and the Suns will have to deal with him tonight’s matchup.
Matchups between Dallas and Phoenix have some extra meaning ever since the Suns controversially selected DeAndre Ayton with the top pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, passing over the Slovenian prospect. In short, this is a matchup that James Jones and the Phoenix organization circled on the calendar.
This Dallas roster is far from elite, with little to no star power outside of Doncic and a thin bench group. However, this team still sits at 11-11, with nearly all of the credit going to Luka Doncic for keeping this team afloat.
His workload for the Mavericks this season has been immense, playing over 37 minutes per contest and boasting a usage rate of a whopping 37.9%. Only Giannis and Embiid have higher usage percentages, though they have logged two hundred fewer minutes than Luka. Responsible for over 33 points and nearly nine assists per game on efficient marks, it is safe to say that this Mavericks team entirely depends on Doncic.
Can the Suns’ defensive stopper keep the lid on Luka?
Luckily for Phoenix, they have as good a player as any to match up with the Dallas star: Mikal Bridges. Bridges, who also logs nearly 37 minutes per contest, has the size, length, and defensive IQ to hold his own with Doncic. However, Doncic has traditionally had the upper hand versus Bridges and the Suns.
In 13 career matchups between the pair, Luka has averaged over 26 points per game on 46% from the field and 25% from deep. Though his numbers are certainly respectable, they are not what one would consider incredibly efficient. This shows in Doncic’s 3-10 regular season record versus Phoenix.
The key to slowing down Luka and, subsequently, a victory is to keep him on the perimeter. Look for Monty Williams to call plenty of doubles, play Bridges big minutes, and pick him up as a ball carrier early on defense. Forcing his teammates to take on the scoring load and limiting Doncic to jumpers should allow Phoenix to steal one on the road in Dallas.
If Phoenix can keep the guard out of the paint and make him shoot challenging shots, the regular season dominance over Doncic and Dallas should continue.