Saturday, November 24 – Celtics at Mavericks
DALLAS – Luka Doncic came into the NBA as an unknown to most of the league. That was not the case, however, with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens got an up-close look at Doncic well before Doncic joined the Mavericks for this season, thanks to Boston’s 2015 involvement in the NBA Global Games. Stevens and the Celtics faced off against Doncic and Real Madrid during the preseason on Oct. 8, 2015, when Doncic was only 16 years old.
Boston’s coach said he knew right then and there that Doncic had something in him that most basketball players don’t.
“We played against Luka when he was 16 at Real Madrid, so you didn’t see much of him in that game,” Stevens said before Saturday night’s matchup with Doncic and the Mavericks, “but you knew since he was 16 and on Real Madrid that he was special.”
Docic totaled only one point, four rebounds and one assist during 16 minutes of action during his matchup with Boston.
Now, three years later and in his first season in the NBA, Doncic is proving Stevens’ beliefs to be true. The rookie heads into tonight’s game averaging 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as a rookie. Those numbers rank first, third and second, respectively, among the league’s first-year players.
“He’s special,” Stevens said of Doncic, shortly before rattling off all of the ways the rookie affects games. “He stretches you from deep. He posts you if you’re smaller. He’s got all of the savvy moves of older guys, and the game seems awfully slow for him. He can just kind of manipulate the game as it goes along.”
Boston would prefer to prevent him from doing so tonight, and that responsibility will fall on the shoulders of a handful of players. Al Horford will likely start the game out defending Doncic, but Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Semi Ojeleye are almost certainly going to match up with him as well.
The Celtics just shut down one rookie last night in Trae Young, who tallied only five points and two assists against them. They’ll look to do the same tonight in Dallas.
– Marc D’Amico
Kyrie Irving was the first Celtics player to get his game together after a sluggish start.…