Longtime Boston Celtics' killer Luka Doncic can deliver C's ultimate heartbreak in Finals

Dallas Mavericks star already has two game-winners against Celtics
Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

Despite just turning 25 years old this year, Dallas Mavericks' guard Luka Doncic has already dominated the league and caused headaches for majority of NBA teams headaches with his ability to control the game. 

The Celtics are no strangers to Doncic’s excellence on the court, although they have his number in recent years. Since coming into the league, Doncic is 5-6 versus the Celtics, averaging 29.9 points per game, 8.8 boards, and 7.5 assists. The Celtics have easily won the last four against them, keeping Doncic’s +/- under -10 in each contest, but the painful losses are impossible to ignore. 

The Cs have had strong defensive rosters in every matchup against Doncic, but have only kept him under 40% from the field in one game. Although this year’s team can create the most problems for Doncic offensively, his step-back jumper, ability to draw contact and control over the game's pace makes him by far the biggest challenge the Celtics will face these playoffs. 

Once upon a time, Luka Doncic owned the Boston Celtics

Prior to the Celtics' 4-game win streak against the Mavericks, it was Luka who had bested the Celtics in four straight games — all of which in dramatic fashion. In February 2021, Luka nailed a ridiculous step-back with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock, less than a minute after hitting another go-ahead step-back over former Celtics' big Daniel Theis identical to his game-winner over Rudy Gobert in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. One month later, Doncic hit his seventh three of the game in crunch time before drawing a huge foul on Kemba Walker behind the arc and sinking three free throws to help close out another win. Both Celtics' stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown failed to answer, and the Celtics fell 113-108. 

The following season, Luka hit one of the wildest shots of his career, another step-back game winner that this time swished through the net after the buzzer sounded. Like the other two losses, the Celtics fought back from a deficit and delivered strong fourth quarter performances — a troubling area for them — but still fell short to Doncic's greatness in the clutch. 

And in March 2022, the Celtics squandered a close home game, with Luka drilling a three to tie the game before finding Spencer Dinwiddie for the eventual game winner. Tatum notably struggled, especially down the stretch, perhaps giving him all the motivation he needed to make this their last loss versus the Mavericks. 

So if the Celtics hold a positive record over Doncic, including four straight dominant showings, and he seemingly needs last-minute magic to pull off his wins against them, what does that mean for this seven-game series

The Celtics have the tools to either run away with the series or allow heartbreaking history from the NBA’s biggest star to repeat itself.