Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are currently gearing up for their upcoming first round playoff series vs the Los Angeles Clippers, the team that sent them home both in 2020 as part of the NBA Bubble and during the COVID-impacted 2021 postseason. The Mavericks undoubtedly peaked at the right time this regular season, winning 16 out of their last 19 games, and Doncic looked the part of a legitimate league MVP candidate in learning to play alongside co-star Kyrie Irving and helping Dallas bounce back from its embarrassing whiff on postseason contention in the 2022-23 season, shortly after Irving's arrival.

One revelation for the Mavericks this season has been none other than forward Derrick Jones Jr., who has been a bit of a Swiss Army knife for the team, filling in the gaps on offense and showing off his improved three-point jumper in addition to taking on tough defensive assignments on the other end of the floor.

There's no doubt that at certain points of the upcoming series vs the Clippers, Jones will be tasked with guarding Los Angeles star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom have eviscerated the Mavericks during the previous two postseason matchups.

Recently, Jones got one hundred percent honest on his mindset as he approaches that marquee matchup.

“Treat them like they any other man. I just go out there and guard. I watch film, I look at people’s tendencies, I watch what they like to do, I watch what they don’t like to do, try to make them do what they don’t like to do a lot,” said Jones, per Noah Weber of the Smoking Cuban on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter.

What is the Mavericks' ceiling?

Down the stretch of the 2023-24 season, the Mavericks looked like legitimate championship contenders, with Irving and Doncic finally learning to play off of one another as opposed to canceling each other out, and with the team's savvy trade deadline additions of PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford paying dividends on the defensive end of the floor, which had been the team's Achilles heel in recent seasons.

It remains to be seen whether the Mavericks will be able to survive having both Doncic and Irving on that end of the floor, as recent NBA history suggests that championship teams generally do not have two negative defenders in their starting lineup, which Irving and Doncic both are (although both have shown at least improved effort on that end of the floor as things have progressed).

However, there is something to be said about the fear that Doncic and Irving strike into their opponent's hearts due to their sheer shotmaking ability, an ability that has been supplemented with a more versatile and balanced supporting cast down the stretch of this season.

In any case, the Mavericks and Clippers will get things underway in their series on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 PM ET from the Arena. The game will be carried nationally by ABC, before Game 2 switches to TNT on Tuesday evening.