Luka Doncic, over the weekend, eviscerated the NBA's best team -- and he did it with a smile. Time and again, he read the Phoenix Suns' defense from the top of the floor, waited for it to commit itself to a course of action, then leveraged that strategy against it. To the Dallas Mavericks and their fans, Doncic is a savior. To the league, he's a global ambassador. But to those charged with beating him in a seven-game series, he's an enormous, 6-foot-7 problem.
The Golden State Warriors have experience in encountering such problems -- they schemed for LeBron James four times, winning three of those Finals. If James has a natural successor in the league -- a player whose combination of strength, skill and sight can dominate games -- Doncic is it.
The Warriors have succeeded as their own brand of problem. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain the stylistic and spiritual core of a team that won three titles with an innovative offense that maximized both the range of the Splash Brothers from distance with the brilliance of Green as a master facilitator who drops off passes and handoffs to cutters buzzing around the half court in constant motion.
As brilliant as that offense has been, the Warriors might be even more capable on defense, where they pioneered a switch-happy scheme that enabled defenders to keep a body in front of ball handlers and limited defensive rotations. Even with Green missing 36 games this season, the Warriors finished the regular season as the NBA's No. 2 defense.
The Warriors 3.0 and the Doncic-led Mavericks offer an intriguing matchup that highlights so many of the big themes that have captured the NBA in recent years: positionless basketball, 3-point shooting, defensive versatility, the almighty high ball screen.
Here are five questions that could define these Western Conference finals: