SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After years of being tagged an underachiever, Golden State's Andrew Wiggins has emerged this season as an All-Star, earning a new nickname -- "Two-Way Wiggs"
On Wednesday night, Wiggins drew the tough assignment to slow down Dallas Mavericks superstar guard Luka Doncic, who averaged 32.6 points and 9.9 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Warriors strategy centered on one major ploy -- make Doncic work every minute he was on the court. And that's what Wiggins did, picking him up full court and smothering him on the defensive end, until Doncic dejectedly walked to the bench in the fourth quarter.
"Just make him work, that was the main thing, 94 feet, just make him work, pick him up," Wiggins said of the plan in the post-game news conference. "Make everything tough for him. He's a good player, great player, so he's going to make shots. He's going to do his thing but just stay on him, make it tough."
When the buzzer sounded on Golden State's 112-87 Western Conference Finals Game 1 beatdown, Doncic had more turnovers than field goals made, going just 6-for-18 from the field, and pulled down a modest 7 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.
When asked after the game, Doncic gave a very simple explanation.
"Great job. That's it. That's all I've got to say," he told reporters. "They did a great job."
It wasn't just on the defensive end that Wiggins excelled. He also scored 19 points, pulled down 5 rebounds, dished off 3 assists and had a block and a steal.
"I feel like I'm still young," he said. "I don't really get too tired. I'm locked in. I'm motivated, and when you see it work or I feel like it's helping u play better, it just motivates me to do it more. I'm not tired or nothing. You know, it's adrenaline. I just feel good."
His contribution to the win also earned the admiration of head coach Steve Kerr.
"I thought Wiggs was fantastic," he told reporters. "Doncic is as difficult a cover as there in this league and we just asked Wiggs to try to hound him and guard him as best as he could, stay in front and try to keep the pressure on him and he did a fantastic job. Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team. I thought he was great offensively as well. So great night for Andrew."
And his teammates.
"He took the challenge and Luka's tough," Steph Curry said. "He still finds a way to control possessions. You've got to assume he'll shoot a little bit better but Wiggs was relentless. Every possession, he was out there on him. That's all we really want. Even if Luka has his numbers, you just want to at the end of the day feel like he had to work for everything he got and not give him anything easy."
Klay Thompson felt Wiggins coming to the talented Warriors lineup has helped him finally to live up the expectation of being a No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
"I think him being here, he's allowed to be himself. Luckily for all of us, don't have to shoulder the load like anything crazy because we have so many great, talented players. It could be somebody's night and the ball will find him," Thompson said. "But Andrew was incredible tonight. I can't say enough good things about him. He makes my job so much easier. I don't have to check the best player every night again, especially for what I've been through, it's a nice change of pace.
"But he doesn't seem to get tired and his outside shot is also greatly improved, and he's just coming into his own."
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