The Dallas Mavericks go as Luka Doncic goes.

It’s an undeniable fact, and one that was on display in the club’s season-saving victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4. Doncic was incredible, scoring 29 points in just 33 minutes — which is all you need to play when you hand out the third-worst loss in NBA Finals history.

He’s the straw that stirs the drink, and just about everyone who wore blue and white on Friday night knows it.

“He was Luka,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said postgame, putting it plainly, per league-provided video. “He’s been Luka. There wasn’t a different Luka out there. He played at a high level. He was great. He’s been great. He’s one of the best players in the world, and as much as we want to criticize him, he’s a hell of a player.”

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Doncic was on the receiving end of overwhelming criticism following Game 3, when he fouled out of the game, barked at his own bench to challenge it and tossed a wild gesture in the direction of the official. He was labeled as immature and selfish, blamed for “wetting the bed” despite putting up solid numbers and essentially made the scapegoat for all of Dallas’ shortcomings.

Kidd even called him out.

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It was a different story following Game 4, though. He was back to being the wunderkind, receiving heaps of praise from each teammate who strolled up to the podium to speak with the media.

“He responded very well. I expected it,” Kyrie Irving said, per league-provided transcript. “I think a lot of people expected it that have seen Luka and known Luka — just didn’t know how it was going to happen. He made some things happen tonight that I was very proud of him. He grew.”

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It remains to be seen which Doncic we’ll get in Game 5. Is he going to perform well and be given all the praise? Is he going to struggle and be blamed for another season ending without the Larry O’Brien Trophy?

The Celtics will do their best to make it the latter, but as we saw Friday, that’s easier said than done.

Featured image via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images