Mavericks Notes: Irving, Lively, Jones, Rotation

The Celtics were hoping Kyrie Irving would lead them to a championship when they traded for him nearly seven years ago. Instead, he went through a tumultuous journey in Boston and Brooklyn before finding happiness with a Mavericks team that’s now standing between the Celtics and an 18th banner.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe talked to Irving about all that went wrong during his time in Boston, which eventually led to a bitter breakup with the city. Washburn notes that Irving tended to be a loner when he played for the Celtics, but he has become more likable and more approachable since then.

“Being under the microscope in this business is a lot different for me now than probably four years ago, five years ago, because I’m able to put the big picture of life in perspective and also the game in perspective. It comes easier,” Irving said. “Then also I think the social media, sociopathic behavior. You know, your inner voice is not clear anymore when you’re downloading other voices and other opinions. That can become hard.”

The Mavericks are somewhat of a surprise Finals team after missing the playoffs last season. After Dallas traded for Irving in February 2023, his fit with Luka Doncic initially appeared awkward, but they’ve found a way to make it work. Irving appreciates the situation he’s landed in, and he believes the Mavs can be title contenders for years to come.

“At 32 right now, I just feel like the sky’s the limit,” he said. “I have an opportunity to be on a special team that can be one of the teams that dominates in this era. That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out the past few years, of how to be on a great team, be in an organization where I’m trusted, and also we’re able to succeed and fail together, and doing it in a way where we still have each other’s backs, and no one is giving up on the dream or the goal.”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Dereck Lively II‘s dominance in the middle is one of the reasons the Mavericks believe they can rally from a 3-0 deficit, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Lively had seven offensive rebounds Friday night and sparked an early game-changing run with a rare three-pointer. He wound up with 11 points and 12 boards, making him the first rookie with back-to-back double-doubles in the Finals in 44 years. League sources tell Fischer that rival teams knew the Mavs were targeting Lively in last year’s draft, and they were able to work out a deal with Oklahoma City after a proposal involving Clint Capela and the Hawks fell through.
  • Shawn Marion, who was part of Dallas’ last title team in 2011, sees elements of his own game in Derrick Jones Jr., per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s definitely a shuffle piece that you can put him in different places because he’s very athletic,” Marion said. “He’s mobile. And he’s tall. So he’s got the length. He’s a versatile defender.”
  • Head coach Jason Kidd made rotation changes that might help the Mavericks sustain the momentum from their Game 4 win, observes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Minutes have increased for Lively, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber while decreasing for Jaden Hardy and Tim Hardaway Jr.
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