The more I keep watching this season the more and more I build a picture as to what could lie ahead come playoff time in the NBA. I am by no means on the Kevin Durant to Phoenix bandwagon but it was certainly the right move at the right time for Kevin Durant in his career. Some believed he was getting ready to line up alongside running-mate Kyrie Irving for at least another 2 seasons as it seemed at least from afar that Kyrie Irving remaining in Brooklyn was becoming more and more likely. I mean Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were destroying everyone in their way early on in the season which had me believing the Brooklyn Nets were going to be a shoe-in for the Eastern Conference Finals but we all know how that cookie crumbled at the trade deadline. I look at the Western Conference and I don’t believe there is much competition for the Mavericks and Suns right now. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are both 3-level scorers who can put the ball in the basket at an extremely high-clip in just about every way possible and although Chris Paul doesn’t have that extra skip to him any longer he is still arguably a top 5 point guard when healthy even at his advanced age. With Chris Paul healthy how many more point guards in the league are we tasking with running an offense come playoff time over him? Stephen Curry? Luka Doncic? Let’s just throw Ja Morant in there for good measure and also Jamal Murray but that’s practically it.
I look at the Golden State Warriors and I would not be shocked one bit if they not only make the Western Conference Finals but also ended up winning the whole enchilada this season but their depth scares me much like the Suns’s depth does as well; but when you have two offensive players the caliber of a Devin Booker and Kevin Durant you really just need solid role players around them to contend much like it is with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles. I don’t touch enough on Devin Booker but he is the best shooting guard in the NBA and has been for well over the past 3 years; we just haven’t gave him his due because we are hungover from all the greatness James Harden spoiled us with in the 2010’s leading up to the 2020’s where he is now the second best shooting guard in the game. Devin Booker is everything you could ask for a shooting-guard, maybe you’d wish he was a an inch taller and a bit more athletic but he is the ultimate combo guard and has proven that over the past 3 years in Phoenix lining up alongside Chris Paul. Chris Paul has been injured about 45-50 percent of his tenure with Phoenix and Devin Booker has shouldered the load in his absence both in the regular season and playoffs continuously and now you give him arguably the best scorer ever? Scary stuff.
I was quite frankly blind-sided by Kyrie Irving being trade to the Dallas Mavericks. I heard a rumor or two about the Mavericks possibly being interested but I literally laughed it off because I just looked at a Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving pairing as redundant as it could possibly ever get as far as meshing skill-sets together. It’s literally like pairing Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant together in the 2000’s, just something I would’ve never imagined and would’ve never honestly welcomed to watch because it would’ve screamed bad fit. But that’s Mark Cuban for ya, I still hold a grudge against him till this day for robbing me of the experience of watching Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki win a title or two together in Dallas while they were in their primes in the 2000’s but maybe he is up to something now and no one maybe sees it coming. Which is Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic giving the rest of the NBA a riddle to figure out on how to stop them through the course of a 7-game series. I do not have to be reminded of Kyrie Irving’s ability, I saw him dance through traffic with move after move against the Golden State Warriors in a win or go home Game 7 and the man literally had me feeling like he was the best offensive player I had ever seen with the ball in his hands.
For all we know Kyrie Irving tests the waters with Luka Doncic this season and decides he’ll take over the off-season this summer by joining LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers for a reunion which will have the NBA world salivating to watch arguably the most dynamic pairing in the history of the NBA once again. We shall see how that unfolds but I’m just pegging the Dallas Mavericks to make the Western Conference Finals because although I am not a fan of Luka Doncic there is no denying that the slovenian sensation’s game is tailor-made for playoff basketball. There is literally no way of stopping the kid from getting where he wants,when he wants, and how he wants on the basketball court. I witnessed that in last year’s Conference Finals, mind you I am very familiar with the Golden State Warriors as I have seen my favorite player LeBron James go up against Steve Kerr’s defense for years and Luka Doncic was not fazed one bit by anything Steve Kerr would throw at him coming off a time-out or as the games went on in what ended up being a short 5-game series. But it was not Luka Doncic’s fault why they lost in the Conference Finals, their front-court was just atrocious. The lone game they won in the series was when Luka Doncic finally got some support offensively and it came from Dorian Finney-Smith who’s offense and shooting comes and goes like Halloween once a year.
Watching Luka Doncic being forced to pass out of double-teams by the Warriors’s defense continuously to players who weren’t keeping the Warriors’s defense honest was cringy. It definitely brought flash-backs to when Allen Iverson was left hanging on a island by the rest of his supporitng cast against the Kobe Bryant-Shaquile O’Neal led Los Angeles Lakers. We saw the greatness of Allen Iverson in the 2001 NBA Finals but it came to no avail, much like Luka Doncic who was just outgunned in last year’s Conference Finals. That is to throw no shade at Jalen Brunson who carried the Dallas Mavericks a good portion of their season last year while Luka Doncic was out with an extended injury; not to mention his heroics early on in the first-round against the Utah Jazz which allowed Luka Doncic to hit the second-round guns blazing and we all saw how that turned out for the Phoenix Suns last season. Luka Doncic put on a performance for the ages in a win or go home Game 7 scoring 28 points in the first half, stripping the hearts out of every Suns fan in the Footprint Center last year. You couldn’t think of a worst way to choke than the way the Suns did in that Game 7, I’m actually quite frankly surprised they came back with the same exact team going into this season. Regardless with or without Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns were destined to avenge themselves this season which is what leads me to believe it would all line-up if the NBA builds on what has become a brewing rivalry between the Suns and Mavericks dating back to last season.
Just think about it, till this day it’s being beat into the Phoenix Suns’s heads for electing to draft center Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft and after Luka embarrassed the Phoenix Suns organization in last year’s semi-finals I’m sure new owner Matt Ishba’s intent from the moment he bought the Phoenix Suns was to finish up a job which has been long delayed since their loss in the 2021 NBA Finals and that’s bringing that much alluded championship to Phoenix. It would be the ideal Western Conference Finals and ratings will be sure to sky-rocket for a Suns-Mavericks series. As Kevin Durant looks to solidify a tainted legacy due to front-running to the mighty Golden State Warriors; the same team that walked him down 3 straight games on their way to the 2016 NBA Finals, this season is perfect timing for Kevin Durant to capture at least one last championship before he rides off into the sunset a couple years down the road. This actually may be his best shot at a championship unless Kyrie Irving joins him in free-agency for a second go round which I just don’t see happening again but then again it’s Kyrie Irving we are talking about here, no one yet till this day has been able to figure out his unusual psyque.
For Luka Doncic he might just suffer a likely outcome where he loses in the Conference Finals back to back seasons the same way he lost back to back seasons early on his career versus the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George led Los Angeles Clippers; despite pushing them to the brink of elimination both times. Or Luka Doncic mesmerizes us all once again and carries the Dallas Mavericks past the Phoenix Suns in the West Finals; on his way to his first NBA Finals appearance where any team coming out of the Eastern Conference will have their hands awfully full with the 2-headed dragon of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. I’d say Luka Doncic winning a championship in only his 5th season in the NBA would be a bit premature but years back he did mention wanting to win a championship by his 5th season so I definitely wouldn’t put it past him if he does get it this season. The pressure will be more on Kevin Durant to deliver seeing as he jumped ship once again in much better fashion this time around; the Mavericks organization and fan base won’t want Luka going anywhere anytime soon regardless of how the Kyrie Irving situation turns out this summer but another year of losing beyond this one certainly won’t do the Mavericks any favors. To cap off, I’d love to see LeBron come back from injury and do the unthinkable but a Suns-Mavericks series wouldn’t be a bad fall-back plan, till next time.