Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Olympics, Lively Trade

Numerous media members were calling Anthony Edwards “the new face of the NBA” after Minnesota upset Denver, but that honor actually belongs to Mavericks star Luka Doncic, writes Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic strengthened his case as the league’s best player and top clutch performer with a game-winning three-pointer Friday night that gave Dallas a 2-0 series lead. Sherrington notes that after sinking the shot over Rudy Gobert, Doncic displayed his fearlessness by shouting “you can’t guard me” and some stronger comments at the Defensive Player of the Year.

The argument for Doncic as the league’s No. 1 star starts with five first-team All-NBA appearances, including this season. He finished third in the MVP voting behind Nikola Jokic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but Sherrington points out that they were both eliminated in the second round while Doncic has a chance to add to his reputation with the longest postseason run of his career.

“There are moments where he shows his brilliance and can score so easily,” Kyrie Irving said, “and then he comes back and he looks like he’s laboring a little bit, but that guy’s a warrior.”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Irving was able to keep his composure after missing two free throws with 1:44 remaining, Sherrington states in a separate story. The misses provided free fried chicken for all the fans in attendance, but more importantly they cost the Mavs a chance to slice the lead to one point. Irving made up for it a few seconds later with a clutch three-pointer from the corner that set the stage for Doncic’s heroics. “I think I was as surprised as a lot of people in the arena,” Irving, a 90% free throw shooter during the regular season, said of his misses from the line. “In those moments, I’ve got to stay focused and be aware of how much it means to our team to make those. But when you miss, you’ve also got to take that accountability and be better. The next-play mentality was the only thing I could carry forth. I got into that corner and knocked it down.”
  • Irving could be in line for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team this summer if Tyrese Haliburton opts out because of his hamstring issues, speculates Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Haliburton, who was held out of tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, also missed 10 games with a hamstring strain in January.  Irving was disappointed about not making the team last month after being one of the finalists.
  • Dallas and Oklahoma City both benefited from last year’s draft-day trade, Rylan Stiles writes for Inside the Thunder. Dereck Lively II has been an interior force for the Mavericks throughout the playoffs, while Cason Wallace became a three-and-D specialist in the Thunder backcourt.
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