By EVAN SIEGEL
After Thursday night’s win over the visiting Dallas Mavericks, the Heat are back in the playoffs, sitting just above the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Mavericks jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and pushed the Heat to the brink in a tense battle that came down to the wire.
The Mavericks got another special performance from their prized rookie, Luka Doncic. Doncic threatened to achieve his seventh triple-double of the season, which would have tied the all time record for rookies in NBA history. Goran Dragic, his Slovenian counterpart, notched a triple double of his own, shredding the Mavs defense particularly in the third quarter.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the game, however, was the amount of Slovenian fans that attended the game. Both Doncic and Dragic were born and raised there, where they have become international sensations. Doncic played professional basketball in Spain for six years before coming to the NBA, and Dragic has been a star in the NBA for nearly 10 years.
During each sequence where either Dragic or Doncic scored, the entire crowd erupted into a frenzy, chanting their names so loudly that the typical chants of “defense” or “let’s go Heat” were completely drowned out. Both Doncic and Dragic returned to the court after the game to see the crowd and shake hands with the fans.