Mavericks Notes: Lively, Kidd, Washington, Doncic

Mavericks rookie center Dereck Lively II talks about balancing his first NBA playoff experience and his mother’s recent death in a compelling story by Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Townsend notes that Dallas fans have become familiar with Lively’s tragic journey, which saw him use the NIL money from his lone season at Duke to purchase a headstone for his father, who died after years of drug addiction, and a house for his mother, Kathy, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma 10 years ago. Doctors believed Kathy was in remission, but her health declined in March, causing Lively to miss a game for personal reasons. In mid-April, family members were called to say their final goodbyes.

“Since I lost my father, my biggest fear in life was losing my mother,” Lively said. “You know, when your biggest fear happens, you’re stuck with a hole in your heart. It’s like you think you’ve got to do something to fill that hole, but you really can’t because nothing will fill it.”

Kathy had been an important part of Lively’s rookie season, Townsend adds. She was with him at the draft and had a chance to explain on national television how much it meant to the family to have him selected. They lived together in a Dallas apartment, and she was a regular at home games until her health declined.

“I haven’t really been able to focus on what’s been going on in my life because I’ve been so focused on the basketball,” he said. “I really haven’t had a second to sit down and breathe. I haven’t had a second to kind of digest what’s been going on. I feel like it hits me in waves. One day I can get up and be fine. Another day I’ll wake up and it’s like, ‘S–t, I can’t even get out of bed.’”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News looks at why this year’s team has a better chance of advancing than the 2022 Mavs that also reached the Western Conference finals. Sherrington points out that Dallas has been successful with big and small lineups and has shown an ability to bounce back from tough losses. “This team is probably a little bit more talented than that first group, and that’s not being negative,” coach Jason Kidd said. “This group has a lot of talent.”
  • P.J. Washington‘s hot streak from beyond the arc could be the X-factor that helps the Mavericks win a title, Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report observes in an overview of the four remaining teams. Washington shot 31.4% from three-point range during the regular season, but he’s raised that to 40.7% in the playoffs.
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic talks to Slovenian fans about the extra effort they make to watch Luka Doncic play. Because their nation is seven hours ahead of Dallas, that usually means staying up overnight or waking up very early.
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