No one can doubt that Luka Dončić is having a spectacular postseason, carrying the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference finals.
He’s continued to put up huge numbers through three games. But unfortunately for Dončić and the Mavericks, they ran into the Warriors, who staked out a three-games-to-none lead in spite of Dončić's best efforts.
Dončić's stats on the surface are brilliant. He is averaging 34.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series, with 40-plus point efforts in both Games 2 and 3.
But two other stats -- aside from Dončić's playoff career-worst Game 1 -- add context to the Mavericks’ misfortunes against the Warriors.
The first indicates what Doncic is up against -- and perhaps who his teammates are. Through three games, his plus/minus rating sits at minus-61, which is the worst on his team. It would be unfair to pin that solely on Dončić, though, because he’s been on the court for all but 31 minutes.
The second puts Dončić's series in historic proportions.
Dončić is one of just six players in playoff history to record back-to-back 40 point games -- and lose them both. He joined Devin Booker (2021), LeBron James (2009), Magic Johnson (1990), Michael Jordan (1986) and Jerry West (1965) on the list.
It’s not a list that any player wants to be on, but it shows that even some of the greatest players in NBA history had at least one playoff run where even their best scoring games weren't enough to get wins.
The good news for Dončić is that he’s only 23 years old. He has plenty of time to become known as a winning playoff superstar, just like most of the other players on that list.