Beck on Mavs: 'This was an important step forward, they still have work to do'


Dallas Mavericks wunderkind Luka Doncic has already established himself as one of the NBA's most prolific playmakers, but even he realizes that his game isn't a finished product. Following his team's loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday -- in which he scored a team-best 40 points -- Doncic told reporters that he's "still learning" how to handle and approach the high-stakes pressure associated with the playoffs.

Although the Mavericks are on the brink of elimination -- they now trail 3-0 in the series -- they can find solace in the fact that Doncic is a fast learner. This postseason, the 23-year-old has averaged an impressive 32.1 points with 9.5 boards and 6.2 assists over 13 games. Doncic simply needs help on offense, as Dallas is just 2-6 when he posts 40-plus points in the playoffs in his career. Suffice to say, capturing an NBA championship isn't a one-man job.

"They hadn't won a playoff series with Doncic until this season, and they're in the conference finals. And that's a step, that's an important step. A necessary step," reporter Howard Beck explained to the Reiter Than You show on Monday. "I think they're far deeper in these playoffs than they had the right to be, to be honest... Given they don't have a second star and given the drop-off after Luka, there's not a lot here. It's remarkable they've gotten to this point.

"If they get swept, well, I've seen better teams get swept. They've achieved something just by being here -- that's not spin or Pollyannaish... This was an important step forward, they still have work to do. We knew that even before this began. Even if they had won this series, you'd still say, long-term, Luka needs a running mate, a co-star. That's just the way this league works. And it's very, very rare for a single star to do it alone."

At just 23 years old, Doncic is well on pace to produce a Hall of Fame career. He recently became the second-youngest player in league history to record 35 points and 10 boards in a Game 7, per ESPN Stats, and during the Western semifinal round, Doncic became the first player in the last 25 postseasons to match or exceed the opposing team's point total in a half. In 26 career playoff games, he's averaging a laudable 32.8 points with 9.2 boards and 7.9 assists.

Dallas -- which earned the West's fourth seed with a 52-30 record -- will play Game 4 against Golden State on Tuesday at American Airlines Center (9 p.m. ET tip-off). According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Mavericks currently have a 5-percent chance to advance to the NBA Finals, as no team in history has overcome an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series and advanced.

The entire NBA conversation between Beck and Reiter can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow the Reiter Than You show on Twitter @sportsreiter and @CBSSportsRadio, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.