I haven’t watched as much of the first round of the NBA Playoffs as I maybe would have liked. Generally, the first round of the playoffs isn’t particularly compelling: the title contenders beat down their opponents and the competitive series are typically played between teams destined to lose short series in the second round.
Even by those standards, the first round in the East was a snoozefest. Three sweeps, one five game series, and the most interesting event was a team deciding not to play a game. The first round in the West though has consistently had me tuning into games I had not planned to watch. The Nuggets-Jazz series has been one of the best series I can remember, the Thunder have been competing their asses off, and I will always try to watch playoff LeBron.
By far the best part of the first round, though, was the Clippers-Mavs series and, in particular, Luka Doncic. Hardcore NBA fans were already well aware of the abilities of the 21-year old Slovenian, but the six games in the first round jumped the point guard on to the radar of the casual fan.
Averaging 31 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game while shooting 50% from the floor, Doncic even led his undermanned Mavs team to a couple of wins against the Clippers, a title favorite, including Game 4 which ended like this. The stats don’t tell the real story of Doncic’s impact; the second year player often looked like the best player on the floor in a series that included Kawhi Leonard.
Luka Doncic has arrived and it was spectacular to witness. He got a ton of respect from the Clippers throughout the series, as Doc Rivers and his coaching staffs constantly mixed and matched defensive approaches to thwart him.
Doncic received plenty of attention from the Clippers’ players as well. I have no problem with Montrezl Harrell calling Doncic a “bitch ass white boy” and find the outrage over such trash talk to be entirely manufactured and 100% fake.
I do, however, object to Marcus Morris’s treatment of Doncic. Perhaps the hard foul in the final game of the series did not warrant an ejection, but it was dirty and it was intentional. It would be one thing if this was Morris’s dirtiest play on the Mavs’ superstar in the series, but it was not.
Morris targeted Doncic two games in a row. Perhaps it was premeditated, perhaps it was out of frustration as the 21-year old white boy was putting him in a blender, perhaps these really were accidents. Lol, nah.
If Morris had let it go after the series, I might be willing to give him a pass. It’s the playoffs and these things happened in the heat of the moment. But Morris made sure to chirp Doncic on Bleacher Report’s Instagram page today.
I want more bad blood and more intense rivalries in the NBA, so I won’t pretend this is unacceptable behavior. It just infuriates me when role guys pretend that the outcome of a game or a series was attributable to them and thus gives them license to use that to chirp a superstar on the other side. Let Kawhi chirp Luka with “Clips in 6” if he wants; Morris should stick to battling with Dorian Finney-Smith.
I can’t wait to watch Doncic next season. I wouldn’t care at all if Marcus Morris retired before the start of the second round.
Fuck Marcus Morris.