Southwest Notes: Doncic, Morant, Grizzlies, Pelicans

The Mavericks will need a vintage performance from Luka Doncic to avoid elimination Thursday night, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic is averaging 32 points per game in the series with the Suns, but his shot has been off the past two games as he’s gone a combined 19-of-48 from the field and 3-of-18 from three-point range. He was limited to two assists in the Game 5 loss.

“That’s on me, for sure,” he said. “That’s on me and I’ve got to attack the paint more.”

Ball movement was an issue Tuesday for Dallas, which had just nine total assists, and Doncic thought the Mavs “relaxed” after taking an early lead. Coach Jason Kidd remains confident that Doncic can turn things around in Game 6, noting that he has a history of performing well in high-pressure environments.

“He’s not afraid of the stage at 23,” Kidd said. “You saw that in the Olympics. You see it in the playoffs this year. You saw it in the playoffs last year. That’s a good trait to have.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The bone bruise in his right knee that might sideline Grizzlies guard Ja Morant for the rest of the playoffs isn’t related to an injury he suffered toward the end of the regular season, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. “Everything I hear is non-surgical,” coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters, including Geoff Calkins of The Daily Memphian, in regard to treatment options for Morant (Twitter link). When asked why he accused Warriors guard Jordan Poole of causing the injury in Game 3, Jenkins responded, “That is what our medical team and Ja said. … I was stating what was in-house.” (Twitter link from Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN)
  • The Grizzlies‘ playoff run could end tonight, but their young roster gives them a very bright future, observes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated. With Morant only 22 and no players older than 28, Memphis has a chance to be among the NBA’s best for many years to come. Desmond Bane looked back about a decade to find a team in a similar situation. “That Oklahoma City team when (Kevin Durant), James Harden and (Russell Westbrook), all those guys were young and fairly new,” Bane said. “Other than that, I don’t know too many other teams that were young and seen as title contenders.”
  • With the Pelicans seemingly ready to take another step next season, William Guillory of The Athletic compares them to other No. 8 seeds in recent years who kept improving.
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