Dallas Mavericks Are Down 2-0 in the NBA Finals, but Kyrie Irving wouldn’t Accept that Luka Doncic is to Blame

Despite his impressive stat line of 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in Sunday’s Game 2, Doncic identified two unflattering stats as the main causes of the Mavericks’ 105-98 defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

Doncic, who became just the fourth player in NBA history to achieve a 30-point triple-double in a Finals defeat, along with LeBron James, Charles Barkley, and Jerry West, said, “I think my turnovers and my missed free throws cost us the game.” I must therefore perform significantly better in those two areas.

“But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make shots to win the game.”

For the underdog Mavericks to defeat a Boston club that owns the best record in the NBA and hasn’t lost in a month, Irving in particular needs to make more shots.

In Sunday’s defeat, Irving finished with fewer points than field goal attempts for the second consecutive game, scoring 16 points on 7 of 18 shots. Irving is averaging 15 points on 37.1% shooting in the NBA Finals. Irving scored 30 points or more in three of the Mavericks’ four victories over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference finals.

Irving remarked of Doncic, “He’s not alone, and we are going to tell him that.” “He’s spilling into his emotions, feels like he could play better, just like me. I would take the brunt of the responsibility. The first two games weren’t the best for me.”

In Game 2, Irving and Doncic both had explosive first quarters, scoring a combined 21 points to give the Mavericks a big lead. In the quarter, Irving was 4-of-5 from the floor, but he calmed down under pressure from Boston’s guards.

“Many of the shots were hitting the back rim,” stated Irving, who has not made a 3-pointer in the series and is 0 of 8. “That could piss you off as a competitor, but it’s all part of the game of basketball. And you have to accept the ups and downs of this. That’s, I would say, the toughest challenge when you’re in a series. You want to play extremely well, especially when you’re playing in a Finals.”

“A little disappointed in myself not being able to convert a lot more on my opportunities that I have in the lane. Obviously, I’m going against Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown a few times, but I feel like I have the upper edge on certain possessions where I’ve just got to convert.”

“He had great looks. They just didn’t go down,” Irving’s Mavericks coach Jason Kidd remarked. “That’s just the game of basketball. Sometimes you make them. Sometimes you don’t. You continue to keep playing.”

Despite being listed as questionable until after his pregame warmup, Doncic played 42 minutes. He believes he sustained a thoracic contusion while leading the charge during Thursday’s Game 1 loss. Since the third playoff game, he has been playing with a sprained right knee, and since the beginning of the second round, he has been dealing with left ankle soreness.

Of his 32 points, 23 were scored by Doncic in the first half of Game 2. In the second half, he committed five of his eight turnovers, which the Celtics turned into nine points in transition.

Doncic was praised by Kidd as “great.” “No matter what he says, that’s just who he is. He’s a leader. It’s not all on him. It’s a team. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. So, he put us in a position. He was really good tonight. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get over the hump. I thought our defense was really, really good. We’ve just got to take care of the ball.”

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