The renewal of the rivalry between second-year players Luka Doncic of Dallas and Trae Young of Atlanta will continue Saturday when the Mavericks visit the Hawks to complete their two-game season series.
Doncic was sidelined by a right ankle sprain when the teams met on Feb. 1, but he is healthy this time and ready to go head-to-head with Young for the third time in their career.
The two players have been linked to each other since the 2018 NBA Draft. Doncic was chosen as the third overall pick by Atlanta, but had his draft rights traded to Dallas in exchange for the draft rights to the fifth overall pick — which turned out to be Young — and a protected 2019 first-round pick, which the Hawks used to pick Cam Reddish.
The trade has worked out well for both teams. Doncic was the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year and both players were chosen to play in the NBA All-Star Game.
Doncic is averaging 28.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists. He had 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Mavs’ 122-106 win at Orlando on Friday. He is tied for the league high with 12 triple-doubles this season.
Doncic averaged 22.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in two games against the Hawks as a rookie.
Young is averaging 30.1 points, 9.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds. He scored a career-high 50 points, which included a career-high-tying eight 3-pointers and 18 free throws in Thursday’s 129-124 win over Miami. Young is only the sixth Atlanta player to score 50, joining John Drew, Lou Hudson, Pete Maravich, Dominque Wilkins and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the last to do so on Nov. 23, 2001.
“It felt great,” Young said. “That’s the main reason we play, we play to win. For me to be able to have a good night and also win, that’s the best part.”
In three career games against Dallas, Young is averaging 17.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds.
Reddish has grown into a dependable player for the Hawks. He scored 16 against the Heat and had the go-ahead steal and basket in the final minutes. Reddish has scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 games. He is one of three rookies with 50 steals.
The Mavericks won the first meeting 123-100 in Dallas and have won two straight against the Hawks. But Atlanta has prevailed in the last six meetings on its home court.
The Mavericks haven’t decided whether to play Kristaps Porzingis on the second part of a back-to-back. He did not play in a similar situation against Atlanta, which came one night after putting up 35 at Houston, as the team tries to manage the wear on his sore right knee. Porzingis had 24 points and 10 rebounds on Friday.
“As I’ve stated all along, it’ll go on a case-by-case basis,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll just go that way.”
The Hawks are still awaiting the availability of Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere, two centers acquired at the trade deadline. But Pierce said Thursday Capela (right heel contusion) and Labissiere (left knee) remain weeks away from returning.
–Field Level Media