Southwest Notes: Irving, Doncic, Rockets, Spurs, Ellis

Luka Doncic blamed himself after the Mavericks lost on Sunday to fall behind 2-0 to the Celtics in the NBA Finals, pointing to his eight turnovers and four missed free throws. However, Doncic had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in that game, making 12-of-21 shots from the field. His backcourt mate Kyrie Irving scored just 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting and is now 13-of-37 from the floor in the series.

Ahead of Game 3, Irving said he let Doncic know that if anyone needs to step up and give the team more, it’s him, not Luka.

“It started with me just telling my hermano I got to play better for him, alongside him,” Irving said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “In order for us to accomplish our goal, we both have to be playing well and we both have to be doing the little things, doing whatever it takes to win. Easy conversation. But it started with me reaching out, just letting him know it’s my fault, taking accountability for not playing particularly well.”

Irving noted that he has come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Finals before (in 2016 with Cleveland) and hinted that the move to Dallas for Game 3 may help him break out of his slump.

“Being back in Boston, there’s such a level of desire that I have inside of me to play well,” Irving said. “Wanted to be there for my teammates. As a competitor, it’s frustrating. But I don’t want to let that seep in or spill over to any other decisions I have to make there as a player.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Doncic received a pain-killing injection to treat his thoracic contusion, according to Tim MacMahon and Malika Andrews of ESPN. The expectation is that the Mavericks star, who has also been dealing with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness, will get another injection ahead of Game 3, sources tell ESPN. “I feel good,” Doncic told reporters on Tuesday when asked about his health. “I don’t want to get into any more details. But I feel good.”
  • In a YouTube video, cap expert Yossi Gozlan examines the Rockets‘ upcoming offseason decisions and their financial situation going forward, considering what they might do with rookie scale extension candidates Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green and outlining some hypothetical trade scenarios.
  • Former USC point guard Boogie Ellis worked out for the Spurs over the weekend, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Ellis is ranked 83rd overall on ESPN’s list of top-100 prospects, so he could be a target for the Spurs in the second round or as an undrafted free agent.
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