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Luka Doncic secures return to the playoffs for Dallas Mavericks

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The Dallas Mavericks are going back to the playoffs.

On Friday, the Mavericks secured a berth in the 2021 NBA Playoffs with a win over the Toronto Raptors. It marks the second straight playoff appearance for the Mavericks and the 16th overall since the 2000-01 season.

Let's break down what it all means for the Mavericks.

Luka Doncic is at it again

They call him Wonder Boy for a reason.

Now in his third season with the Mavericks, Doncic entered Friday's game with the Raptors averaging 28.0 points, 8.6 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game on the season. While each of those are slightly below what he averaged last season, he's posting numbers we've only seen from six other players before. His efficiency is also way up, shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from the 3-point line, both of which are career highs.

Doncic continues to etch his name in the record books, whether it's becoming the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to reach 5,000 points or recording the first 20-assist triple-double in franchise history.

Though he didn't make our most recent MVP ladder , Doncic could very well finish in the top-five in MVP voting again this season.

The Mavericks fell to the LA Clippers in six games, but Doncic was spectacular in his playoff debut last season with averages of 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists. He broke the record for points scored in a playoff debut (42), recorded the third-ever 40-15-10 postseason game and became the youngest player ever with a game-winner in the playoffs.

If there's one thing we know about Doncic, it's that he lives for the big moments.

Can the Mavericks count on Kristaps Porzingis?

Injuries have once again been a factor for Porzingis this season.

Ahead of Friday's matchup with the Raptors, Porzingis had appeared in 41 of a possible 70 games for the Mavericks. He only recently returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for seven games.

He looked good in his return, scoring 19 points in 21 minutes of action. He followed it up with a 21-point, 10-rebound performance against the Raptors.

Porzingis is the Mavericks' second-leading scorer on the season with 20.1 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 36.3 percent from 3-point range. He's also averaging a team-high 9.0 rebounds to go along with 1.4 blocks.

A lateral meniscus tear in his right knee kept Porzingis out of three of the six games the Mavericks played against the Clippers last postseason.

The Mavericks will likely need the one-time All-Star to be at full strength to make some noise this postseason.

There's still a lot to be determined

Nothing is set in stone in the Western Conference.

If the season were to end today, the Mavericks (42-29) would be the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They have played their way out of the Play-In Tournament, but the LA Clippers (47-24) and Denver Nuggets (47-24) are still fighting over the third and fourth seed.

Additionally, the Portland Trail Blazers (41-30) are only a game behind the Mavericks in the standings. The Mavericks lost the season series with the Blazers, 2-1, so Portland owns the tiebreaker should both teams finish with the same record.

The Mavericks at least have an idea of who they could face in the first round of the playoffs - it's going to be the Clippers or Nuggets - but there's still a lot to be determined heading into the final days of the regular season.

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