Three things to know: Doncic scores 30+ for ninth straight game, Mavs top Nets

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1) Luka Doncic scores 30+ for ninth straight game, Mavs top Nets

Luka Doncic eased into the past couple of seasons — in his first six games last season he averaged nine points fewer a game than he did in April, with a true shooting percentage below 50 — something that hurt his MVP case.

Not this season — he’s started the season at a Wilt Chamberlain level (kind of). Coming to training camp out of EuroBasket, and with secondary shot creator Jalen Brunson gone to New York, Doncic has taken on more of the Dallas offense to start the season and has thrived:

Monday night against Brooklyn, Doncic dropped 36 — his ninth straight 30+ game to open the season.

Doncic now owns the second-longest 30+ point streak to open a season in NBA history (like many things in the NBA record books, it feels like Wilt Chamberlain was putting up video game numbers — he opened the 1962-63 season with 23 consecutive 30+ point nights).

Through nine games, Doncic is averaging 36 points per game on 52.4% shooting, plus 8.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He is getting to the rim for 31.9% of his shots and finishing 71.6% of those — and he’s breaking ankles along the way. Just ask Ben Simmons.

However, where Doncic has shown real improvement is on short floaters (63.9% shooting from 3-10 feet out) and the midrange (56.5% on shots from 10-16 feet). Doncic’s shooting numbers might only get better, he shot 35.3% from 3 last season but is only at 29.7% to open this season.

Doncic is adding 8.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists, all with a league-highest usage rate of 39.2 — Dallas is leaning into its star like never before, and so far he has carried the load.

Doncic and Kevin Durant — 26 points — put on a show Tuesday night. Well, they did for the first half, then in the third quarter the game became a turnover-filled slog somehow. Doncic and the Cavs broke out of that in the fourth, in part thanks to 17 from Jeff Green, and they got the win.

Doncic entered the season as the MVP betting favorite and has lived up to the hype. No slow start this time around. What that will mean in May — both when the NBA awards are handed out and the playoffs are in full swing — remains to be seen, but Doncic is already off to a historic start.

2) Warriors have issues but they also have Curry — his 47 tops Kings

The Warriors have issues. They have the 27th-ranked defense in the NBA. Their pivot to youth — the “win now and win later” two-timeline idea — has been a mess in practice with Jonathon Kuminga and James Wiseman not living up to the billing. Critical players such as Jordan Poole (30.1% from 3) and Klay Thompson (36% shooting overall) are still finding their shot.

But they have Stephen Curry.

Cold-blooded Curry.

Curry is playing at an MVP level and is carrying the Warriors early, he dropped 47 on the Kings Monday night. Curry also had eight rebounds and eight assists in the win.

Steve Kerr needs to find a way to reduce Curry’s minutes and workload — they need him rested and healthy in April and May, not carrying a November burden — but until the rest of the team (and the defense) comes around, Kerr will need to lean into Curry to win games. Like he did Monday night.

3) It was Josh Hart‘s turn for a Portland game-winner

Two nights before, it was Jerami Grant with the game-winner for the Trail Blazers.

Monday night Portland appeared headed to overtime after Miami’s Max Strus knocked down a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds to tie the game.

In a moment of brilliance, Chauncey Billups didn’t call a timeout, he trusted Damian Lillard to make the right play — and that play was to find Josh Hart open in the corner.

Ballgame.

While Anfernee Simons had 25 for the Trail Blazers, Grant 23, and Damian Lillard returned from his calf strain to score 19, this should be remembered as the Justise Winslow game. It was the Winslow at center minutes that turned the game, that Miami struggled with, and credit Billups for both trying that small-ball look and sticking with it when he saw it worked rather than returning to his conventional lineups. Those minutes turned the game.

It’s another tough loss for Miami, which led by as many as 15 in the second half but lost and falls to 4-7. The Heat had seven players in double figures, but that wasn’t enough on Monday.

Check out the latest on the Mavericks

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Three things to know: Doncic scores 30+ for ninth straight game, Mavs top Nets originally appeared on NBCSports.com