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Jrue Holiday, Bucks Reveal What Makes Luka Doncic Elite

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The Dallas Mavericks embraced the challenge of facing the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks on their home floor in Sunday’s impressive 118-112 win. Luka Doncic led the way with 32 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists.

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Doncic led a pivotal 11-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to create needed separation from the Bucks. It consisted largely of Doncic drawing Giannis Antetokounmpo on switches to prevent him from being disruptive as an off-ball defender.

One of the reasons the Bucks are so tough is their defensive versatility. They can switch coverages throughout a game and have the necessary talent to be disruptive. Doncic, however, was not slowed down.

Perhaps the best display of the chess match going in the Bucks’ favor was a nearly four-minute stretch in the third when the Mavericks were held scoreless. Dallas turned it over four times and missed four field goal attempts during the drought.

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In the end, Doncic and the Mavs figured it out, especially when containing Antetokounmpo.

“I think they threw a lot of different looks at him,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Threw a lot of extra help. Some doubles. Stuff that we’ve seen before.

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“But give them a lot of credit. Their commitment to it, their defense. All year they’ve been a good defensive team. All of us have got to play a little better. Giannis, the people around him. Myself, coach better. But credit to Dallas, they were good.”

Jrue Holiday, widely considered as being one of the NBA’s elite defenders, shared some insight into what goes into guarding Doncic. Packing the paint was the priority for the Bucks, followed by attempting to recover to the weak side when a pass was made.

“Luka can score at all three levels,” Holiday said. “Whether it’s one-on-one or screen-and-roll, so the first thing is try to stop the ball and keep him in front of you. The next thing is the guy that he is playing with, which is the screener. You got to try to be in there and show bodies. Make it crowded so that it doesn’t make it look like he’s open. Then you got the weak side.

“He’s a good player. He sees everything. He makes good plays out of it.”

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Perhaps what has made the Mavericks all the more challenging to contain is embracing that their identity starts and stops with Doncic. The Mavs, as currently constructed, don’t need a co-star.

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