Wiggins’ Luka challenge is next chapter in his playoff representation originally appeared in NBC Sports Bay Area
A former No. 1 overall pick whose career has been defined as a mixed bag of expectations and reality, Wiggins has done nothing but keep his eyes open for the first two rounds of the playoffs. He invited challenges, showed a new side with poster dunks, and made his hustle and athleticism all the talk of a defensive threat and rebounding machine.
How does he rate his first 11 games in the playoffs? About what you’d expect from a small forward who’s always balanced.
“I feel like I’m pretty solid,” Wiggins said Monday at the Chase Center. warrior practice. “There’s more to do and more to help the team.”
Wiggins averaged 14.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in the playoffs while shooting 40 percent from three-point range. He averaged 17.2 points and shot 39.3 percent from three in the regular season. But he averaged 4.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game.
The first-time All-Star has been involved, diving in search of loose balls and showing Calvin Johnson’s receiving radius and rebounding ability. He grabbed at least 5 offensive rebounds 3 times in the playoffs, and the highest of 4 offensive rebounds in a single game in the regular season. In the Warriors’ Game 6 win over the Grizzlies, Wiggins had six offensive rebounds for a total of 11 rebounds and a game-high plus-20.
The game against Dallas needs his rebounds. But his main task will be to use his size, strength and speed to disrupt Donick in any way possible.
“It’s going to be a tough game for sure,” Wiggins said when asked about protecting Doncic. “You’ve seen what he’s done throughout the playoffs. It’s going to be a team effort. All of us, the whole team has to do it collectively.
“He’s in the minority.”
Doncic, 23, took the No. 4-seeded Mavericks to the Western Conference finals after missing the first three games of the first round with a calf strain. He had 30 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back, followed by 33 and 13 two days later. In 10 games this postseason, Doncic is averaging 31.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists.
Dallas won three of its four regular-season games against Golden State, and Doncic averaged 31.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from 3-point range. Yes, the Warriors have their job to do.
With Wiggins in the playoffs, the job would be slightly easier and less strenuous.after reading Grizzlies backup point guard Tess Jones Two games in a row with the Warriors Ja Morant After being put on hold, Wiggins told coach Mike Brown that he wanted to catch Jones from the start in Game 6. Not when he crosses the half court — the length of the field, the moment he steps out of bounds.
Jones had 7 points on 2-of-12 shooting. He had 21 points in Game 5 and 19 in Game 4. Wiggins may be quiet, but he’s competitive inside, like many of his other mislabeled teammates.
The reality is, Doncic will get him. He’s going to score, he’s going to fill up.It’s about making him do it, like Draymond Green Done Nikola Jokic in the first round. The competitive spirit within Wiggins needs to be shown. The same goes for another key aspect of the Warriors as a whole.
His teammates reveled in the chance to make Wiggins smile. Whether it’s showing him photos and videos of him throwing it at someone, or different motivational tactics, they’re always there to make others see a different side of themselves. No one likes it more than Stephen Curry.
“We know what he’s capable of in this league,” Curry said Monday when asked about the importance of making his teammates smile. “Everything he’s been through in his career, from the No. 1 pick to getting some amazing stats in Minnesota, but there’s not much to show here. We know he can impact winning basketball.
“For him, it’s just a matter of whether he’s locked in and involved, in terms of what it actually means to be focused on the pitch. It’s the physicality when defending, taking these games seriously, taking the challenge, grabbing the ball. Rebound, then get aggressive on offense — attacking the paint or opening shots.
“When it all happened, he made a difference to the game and we all appreciate it and know it makes us better.”
The second time Wiggins was asked about the things Curry made him smile, his smile grew exponentially. He was beaming on the podium. Since Wiggins entered the league in 2014, his connection to the Warriors has been victory.
Well, those key players to victory — Curry, Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and others — know how important he is to their championship goals and culture right now.
It’s simple: the more victories, the more smiles. Knocking Doncic out of his path should undoubtedly give the Warriors a win, and keep Wiggins’ teeth gleaming and his mouth wide open.
“Usually I’m cool all the way,” Wiggins said with a gesture that mimicked a long straight line. “But sometimes it’s good to express emotions and I feel like the last game deserved it. I’ve never been here before, so it’s a special opportunity.
“The further we go, the more smiles you’ll see.”