UPDATE: Neither Kevin Durant (7-for-21 from the field) or Luka Doncic (7-for-22) was particularly efficient on Thursday in the Mavericks' 113-109 win, but Doncic finished with 24 points to outscore Durant's 20. What follows is the original report from pregame.
When it comes to the NBA’s most unguardable players, there's Kevin Durant and then there is everyone else.
Durant’s never-before-seen combination of height, elite shooting ability and ball handling has made him nearly impossible to defend, unless your name is Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But when discussing the NBA’s best scorers, you’d be foolish to leave out Durant’s opponent tonight, Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. After the Nets played back-to-back nail biters against the Milwaukee Bucks, we are in for another treat when Durant and Doncic take the floor on Thursday.
The question is, who will score more points?
WynnBET has set Durant’s projected player prop point total at 29.5 with the under (-115) being a slight favorite to the over (-105). Doncic is in a similar boat, as his projected point total is set for 30.5 but the over (-112) is the slight favorite to the under (-108).
This is setting up perfectly for these two to trade buckets all game, isn’t it?
I’ll be the first to say that Durant is going to score more than 29.5 points, as he’s scored 42, 42 and 32 points over his last three games. After losing three straight games, the Nets are in danger of losing out on a top two seed in the East, so I’d expect Durant and Kyrie Irving to get all the minutes (and shots) they can handle tonight.
Dallas doesn’t have a juggernaut of a defense (19th in defensive rating at 112.2), and there really isn’t anyone on the Mavs roster (sorry, Dorian Finney-Smith) who can contain Durant one-on-one.
Doncic has a good chance to hit the over as well. Brooklyn is No. 23 in the league in defensive rating and allows the seventh-most field goals made per game in the NBA. Over his last nine games, Doncic is averaging 29.1 points while shooting 49.5 percent from the field.
If the Mavs want any chance at competing with Brooklyn, Doncic is going to have to match Durant shot for shot tonight. To Durant’s benefit, Irving will be able to shoulder some of the scoring load. Doncic won’t have the same luxury, as Kristaps Porzingis is expected to miss his fourth consecutive game.
So back to our original question, who’s going to score more? My gut is going to say Durant, as his recent hot streak could be a sign for things to come during the final stretch of the regular season. The Nets are desperate for a win, and I expect Durant to make sure they stay in the No. 2 spot in the East for at least another day.