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Luka Doncic vs. Rudy Gobert is a Budding Rivalry

Liam McKeone
Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert
Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert / Tom Pennington/GettyImages
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The Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz will make the playoffs this season and are currently separated by a half-game in the standings as the four and five-seeds. They've played each other three times this season and all three games were decided by single digits. Last night, the Mavs beat Utah by eight, the largest margin of victory by either team this year, and Luka Doncic led the way with a preposterous statline of 35 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists.

The night was made more interesting because Doncic had another run-in with Rudy Gobert. Gobert had a fairly typical statline, notching 12 points and 13 rebounds with three blocks, defending the rim at his standard level. However, over the last two Mavs-Jazz games, it's become clear that he and Doncic do not particularly like each other.

Doncic got into it with Gobert at the end of the first half, which led to a technical for Doncic. The Mavs star isolated on Gobert to end the half and missed a floater, promptly turning to the referees to ask for a foul. This seemed to irritate the Jazz center and he tossed the ball back to Doncic on his way back to the locker room, which caused a ruckus.

Later in the game, Gobert gave Doncic a little extra nudge after the star forward threw an alley-oop to Dwight Powell and Doncic hit the deck, getting up very upset afterwards.

Gobert told reporters afterwards that Doncic was trying to bait him, but he didn't rise to the challenge given he already had one technical from earlier in the contest. Per the Salt Lake Tribune:

“He whispered something in my ear and tried to bait me into getting mad. But I knew what he was trying to do,” said the three-time DPOY. “I just tried to run back on offense, but he got in my way. It’s also part of the game.”

This all came after Doncic and Gobert faced off to essentially decide their last matchup. The Mavericks were down by single digits to Utah back in February and Doncic iso'd on Gobert down the stretch. On the deciding possession with less than two minutes to go, Gobert shut down Doncic with some physical defense that definitely could've caused a whistle-- but it didn't, much to Doncic's chagrin.

We've got a rivalry brewing, folks, and it's great news. There's a pretty good chance at this juncture that the Jazz and Mavericks will face off in the first round of the playoffs. Doncic and Gobert will be going at each other with regularity. Chippy postseason basketball is the best postseason basketball. It will be great.

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