Luka Doncic

Mavs Notes: Carlisle, Doncic, Dinwiddie, Harrison

Former Mavericks coach and current Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said in a radio interview with 105.3 The FAN that Luka Doncic is destined for multiple Most Valuable Player awards (hat tip to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News).

“I don’t have any question in my mind that there will be multiple MVPs in his future,” Carlisle said. “There will be championships in his future. He has a real, great, natural sense for the moment.”

We have more on the Mavs:

  • Doncic and the Mavericks have advanced their timetables, Tim Cato of The Athletic writes. Doncic has solidified his place as one of the league’s premier players with his playoff dominance and the Mavericks have become a true title contender in the process.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie benefited financially from the team advancing to the Western Conference Finals. He collected a $571,427 bonus, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.
  • Mavs president of basketball operations and general manager Nico Harrison said it’s not time to get complacent after knocking out the top-seeded Suns from the playoffs, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. “I can sit back and think about it in August. Heck, I want to keep playing,” Harrison said. “This is time to get greedy. It’s not time to be complacent and kind of look back at your accomplishments. This is the time to be focused. When you make it to this point, it’s time to take it to another level.”

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.

Southwest Notes: Morant-Poole, Adams, Pelicans, Doncic

When Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks committed a hard foul on Warriors guard Gary Payton II, in an eventual 106-101 Game 2 Memphis win, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had harsh words for the play. “There’s a code that players follow,” Kerr said at the time. “Dillion Brooks broke the code.” Payton fractured his elbow and is set to miss three-to-five weeks of postseason play with the injury. Brooks was subsequently suspended for one game.

Now that the shoe is potentially on the other foot, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News wonders if the code was broken once again in Game 3, a 142-112 Warriors win. Warriors guard Jordan Poole grabbed Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant‘s right knee on a play, and Morant subsequently left the contest with an apparent injury. Morant initially tweeted a video of the Poole foul, while quoting Kerr’s “broke the code” comment. Morant has since wiped that post.

“I don’t have a take,” Kerr said of the interaction, per Mark Medina of (via Twitter). “There’s nothing to comment on.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams deserves to return to the Memphis starting lineup, opines Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Though the more athletic and switchable Xavier Tillman has supplanted Adams at center for the Grizzlies’ last six contests, Cole believes the rebounding of Adams will be key for Memphis against the smaller Warriors. The burly big man is also excellent at the kinds of little plays that may not show up in box scores, such as devastating screen-setting.
  • The Pelicans have a variety of intriguing roster-building decisions to make during their offseason. Will Guillory of The Athletic discusses a handful of issues for New Orleans this summer, including potential extensions for new additions CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., the team’s future at point guard, the fate of Jaxson Hayes, and more. The first part of Guillory’s series on the Pelicans’ offseason was previously linked here.
  • Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic has flexed plenty of playoff muscle this postseason, leading Dallas to its first second-round appearance in 11 years. Cydney Henderson of USA Today writes that Doncic proved his mettle in his winning both a EuroLeague title and EuroLeague MVP in 2018, prior to arriving stateside in the NBA draft. He has been training his whole life for this moment. Henderson notes that Doncic has been playing basketball since he was seven months old. His father Sasa Doncic was a pro in various European leagues. “I played basketball because (my dad) played basketball,” Doncic said. “I was always with him on the court. Always at the games just shooting basketballs.”

Mavericks Notes: Bounce Back, Kidd, Adjustments, Kleber

The Mavericks bounced back in Friday night’s Game 3 with a 103-94 victory over the Suns, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Jalen Brunson, who struggled in the first two games of the series, scoring a combined 22 points on just 9-of-28 shooting, led the way with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting.

I kind of found myself playing with a little bit more hop in my step, getting to spots quicker and making decisions faster,” Brunson said. “Decisions came from me just being aggressive. My teammates just kept giving me confidence to go make plays, and I just kept doing that. … I found a way to bounce back tonight, but I just can’t be satisfied with this.”

Star Luka Doncic finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but perhaps more importantly, showed renewed vigor on the defensive end after being repeatedly targeted in Game 2.

The first or second possession, he was diving on the floor,” Dorian Finney-Smith said of Doncic. “When you see the best player do that, it kind of sets the mood.”

I knew I had to do better,” said Doncic, per MacMahon. “I knew I could do better. I think I made a big jump on defense this year. The second half (of Game 2) was horrible by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Head coach Jason Kidd lamented the fact that Doncic didn’t receive much help in the first two games, but he was happy with team’s well-rounded performance in Game 3, MacMahon relays in the same article. “Everybody joined the party,” Kidd said. “They helped out on both ends. Luka was great defensively. He participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens.”
  • Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock were key in slowing down the Suns’ star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “Reggie and Doe-Doe (Finney-Smith), man, those guys have been incredible all year on the defensive end,” Doncic said. “They’re our leaders on defense. We go as they go on defense.” Bullock and Finney-Smith combined for six steals and 8-of-21 on three-pointers, limiting CP3 and Booker to more turnovers (12) than field goals converted (11).
  • Kidd said the NBA had the wrong priorities regarding the team’s $25K fine for ‘bench decorum’ violations, Townsend notes in another article. “The league is worried about the wrong thing. You have millionaires cheering on other millionaires. Doesn’t happen in this society. And the enthusiasm of the game, for a teammate to cheer on another teammate is special. And I think sometimes we’re focused on the wrong thing. And so when you look at people who make a lot of money cheering on their teammates or their employees, that’s what sport is all about. And so for us to get fined, that’s cool. It’s going to another good cause, charity. But again, we’re looking at the wrong thing,” Kidd said before Game 3.
  • Dallas’ heliocentric approach, with Doncic frequently dominating offensive possessions, has led to him being tired in the second halves of games in the postseason. Prior to Game 3, Tim Cato of The Athletic detailed how Doncic and the Mavs could adjust in order for him to contribute on both ends of the floor.
  • Maxi Kleber is improving after falling on his neck in Monday’s Game 1, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “It’s better. I still feel it a little bit when I move my head and all that, but it’s good. I was lucky,” Kleber said.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Mavs, Doncic, Pelicans

The Bexar County Commission is discussing the possibility of allowing the Spurs to play up to four home games away from the AT&T Center in each of the next two seasons, writes Scott Huddleston of The San Antonio Express-News. Because the arena received public funding, the team requires the approval of local officials to play more than two games away from San Antonio.

If approved, home games in Mexico (Mexico City and Monterrey) and elsewhere in Texas (Austin and San Marcos) are possibilities, per Huddleston. Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said in a statement that the franchise remains committed to San Antonio, but wants to attempt to grow its fan base.

“We are committed to finding new, creative ways to purposefully engage and celebrate our fans from Mexico to Austin, continuing to expand our regional fan base,” Buford said. “We believe San Antonio is uniquely positioned from a cultural, geographic and economic standpoint to serve as the anchor for this region. San Antonio has been home for five decades, and the organization will continue to innovate, positioning the Spurs to thrive in San Antonio for the next 50 years.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Southwest:

  • For the second time this week, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd had a familiar message for his team, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. As he did after Dallas’ Game 1 loss to Phoenix, Kidd said on Wednesday after the team lost Game 2 that Luka Doncic needs more help. “He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night — not at this time of the year.” The head coach added that the Mavs also need to “do a better job” of helping Doncic on defense, where he was repeatedly attacked by the Suns in the second half.
  • Pelicans head coach Willie Green – whose team had a strong second half, earned a playoff spot in the play-in tournament, and played Phoenix tough in the first round – sees parallels between this year’s Pelicans and the 2020 Suns, per Christian Clark of “(Suns head coach) Monty (Williams) and I talked about it in the hallway after the game,” said Green, who was an assistant on Williams’ staff when the Suns went 8-0 in the 2020 Orlando bubble. “… Those moments, that experience will help us in the future. That’s very similar to what we went through in Phoenix together.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic takes a look at some of the biggest offseason questions facing the Pelicans, discussing Zion Williamson‘s contract situation, the need to add more outside shooting, and what to do with the Lakers’ lottery pick.

Mavs Notes: Doncic, Brunson, Dinwiddie, Scoring, Future

Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic turned in a masterful performance in Dallas’ 121-114 Game 1 loss to the Suns on Monday. Doncic scored 45 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and notched eight assists. However, Phoenix’s significant edge in athleticism could remain an issue going forward in the series for Dallas, opines Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

Young, lengthy, springy players like Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker have already exposed the vulnerability of the Mavericks. Goodwill also cites the Mavs’ size disadvantage as the reason the team was out-rebounded 51-36 by Phoenix.

There’s more out of Dallas:

  • Beyond Doncic’s big night, the team’s other two main ball-handling guards failed to rise to the occasion in Game 1, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie scored a combined 21 points on 9-of-24 shooting from the floor. Townsend points out that Brunson averaged 27.8 PPG during the Mavericks’ 4-2 first-round victory against the Jazz, while Dinwiddie averaged 15.3 PPG in that series. Of course, as Townsend notes, both players received significantly more opportunities in part because the team played those first three contests with Doncic sidelined.
  • Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd is hoping that more Dallas players will be able to contribute to a more well-rounded scoring approach, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “[Doncic] got whatever he wanted, when you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also I thought he got his teammates some great looks that we normally had made,” Kidd said. “We’ve just got to get someone to join the party.”
  • The Mavericks are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they won the NBA title. The team clearly is trending in the right direction, though Tim Cato of The Athletic still has some questions about the club’s core roster surrounding Doncic. Cato notes that the team offloaded center Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for future roster-building flexibility, not to improve the team’s current postseason chances — the latter outcome occurred anyway. Cato wonders about the efficacy of Brunson and Dinwiddie against the Suns’ swarming perimeter defense. Cato also expressed curiosity about how the team would defend the midrange-centric offense of the Suns, after clamping down against the Jazz in the first round.

Western Notes: Doncic, Green, Payton II, Wolves

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic acknowledged that it will be difficult to play against Suns Defensive Player of the Year finalist Mikal Bridges, writes Eddie Sefko of Dallas and Phoenix will open their second-round series on Monday night.

“They have Bridges,” Doncic said. “I know he’s going to be on me. He’s the best, in the top two guards, him and (Marcus) Smart. But it’s really tough against him. His defense is amazing. It really impresses me. But then on the offensive end, he improved so much that he’s a really amazing player.”

Bridges placed second in Defensive Player of the Year voting this season, trailing only Smart. Phoenix could have its forwards defend Dallas’ star backcourt (Bridges and Jae Crowder on Doncic and Jalen Brunson), or it could task Chris Paul with defending Brunson. While he’s still a good defender, Paul turns 37 years old later this week.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors star Draymond Green was ejected in Game 1 against the Grizzlies on Sunday. Green committed a Flagrant 2 foul and riled up the crowd before exiting, as Kendra Andrews of ESPN tweets. The ejection decision was met with outrage from many fans, players and league observers. Players are automatically suspended by receiving four flagrant foul points in the playoffs, meaning Green would receive a one-game suspension with one more Flagrant 2 or two more Flagrant 1’s. He was famously suspended in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals for this same reason and later declared it cost the Warriors a title.
  • Marc J. Spears of examines where Warriors guard Gary Payton II got his athleticism from. Payton attributes it to his mother, who participated in track, high jump and long jump. His father, of course, is recognized as one of the league’s all-time great defenders and a stellar athlete himself. Payton received his first playoff start against Memphis on Sunday, finishing with eight points and six rebounds in just over 23 minutes.
  • The Timberwolves realize that progressing after this season isn’t a guarantee and growth isn’t always linear, Dave Campbell of The Associated Press writes. Minnesota gave the No. 2 seed Grizzlies a run for their money in round one, but they ultimately lost in six games. The team has a young nucleus of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and others that could be competitive for many years to come.

Western Notes: G. Taylor, Curry, Mavs, Kings

A group of animal welfare activists – members of the organization Direct Action Everywhere who have conducted a series of protests at Timberwolves games in recent weeks – want Glen Taylor to step down from his role as the Wolves’ team owner, writes Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

As Arnovitz details, Taylor is the owner of Rembrandt Farms, a large-scale factory farm that recently killed more than five million birds using a method known as “ventilation shutdown plus” that activists view as inhumane. That method was employed in an effort to combat an outbreak of bird influenza.

Taylor has agreed to eventually hand over the reins of the Timberwolves to incoming owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore. However, Arnovitz says the activists want to expedite the succession process, which currently doesn’t call for Rodriguez and Lore to assume full control until at least a year from now.

According to Arnovitz, Direction Action Everywhere is also demanding that Taylor contribute $11.3MM to public health and animal welfare organizations. That amount is equivalent to the $11.3MM that Rembrandt Farms received in federal funds in 2015 to combat another influenza outbreak, per ESPN.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Warriors star Stephen Curry will no longer face a minutes restriction in Game 5 vs. Denver on Wednesday, head coach Steve Kerr said today (Twitter link via Kendra Andrews of ESPN). There has been speculation that Curry will reenter the starting lineup on Thursday, but Kerr didn’t confirm or deny that.
  • On the verge of winning a playoff series for the first time in his career, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic praised his teammates, including Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock, who rushed to confront Jazz center Hassan Whiteside following a hard foul on Doncic on Monday. “They had my back,” Doncic said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “Both of them, anybody, we had each other’s back. That’s what great teams do. I would go with these guys to war. This is a special team.”
  • In his offseason preview for the Kings, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) explores the resources Sacramento has available to upgrade its roster, concluding that the draft and trade market are the team’s best bets. In Harrison Barnes, Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless, and Alex Len, the Kings have about $35MM in expiring contracts, Marks observes.

Injury Notes: Doncic, Williams, Lowry, Capela

Playing Saturday for the first time in nearly two weeks, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic showed no ill effects from his strained left calf, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Doncic logged 34 minutes, resting halfway through the first and third quarters. He posted 30 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and hit a late three-pointer to give Dallas a four-point lead before the Jazz rallied to win.

“I’m just excited to be back,” Doncic said. “I had fun out there, just having fun playing basketball. What could be better than in the playoffs? The playoffs are the most exciting, so I’m just glad to be back.”

Doncic admitted feeling winded during stretches of the game — MacMahon notes that Utah targeted him defensively, especially in the first half. However, Doncic said the calf didn’t slow him down.

“At the beginning, I was just thinking about it a little bit,” he said. “I think in the middle of the game I kind of forgot about it.”

There are more injury-related items to pass along:

  • There was also good news for the Celtics tonight as center Robert Williams returned for the first time since a meniscus tear on March 27. Williams played 16 minutes and said his knee didn’t hurt after the game (video link from Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe).
  • There’s “cautious optimism” from people close to Heat guard Kyle Lowry that the left hamstring injury he suffered Friday isn’t serious, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Lowry didn’t practice with the team today, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN, and was walking “gingerly.” A source close to Lowry tells McMenamin that the injury is day to day, but Lowry said he is monitoring it “hourly.” Miami’s injury report lists him as questionable for Game 4, which will take place Sunday night. Gabe Vincent or Tyler Herro would likely start at point guard if Lowry isn’t available, Chang states.
  • The Hawks have upgraded center Clint Capela to questionable for Sunday’s game, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds that his status may be a game-time decision. Capela hasn’t played since suffering a hyperextended right knee in an April 15 play-in game.

Luka Doncic To Return For Game 4

2:02pm: Doncic will return against the Jazz in Game 4, the Mavericks announced on social media.

12:52pm: The Mavericks are increasingly optimistic about Luka Doncic (calf strain) returning for Game 4 against the Jazz on Saturday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Doncic has been upgraded to probable, the team announced (Twitter link).

Doncic must complete his warm-up without any setbacks before being activated for the contest, according to Wojnarowski. The plan is for him to see limited minutes if he makes his series debut.

Despite missing Doncic in the first three games, the Mavericks hold a 2-1 series lead over the Jazz. A win on Sunday would give them a 3-1 advantage heading back to Dallas for Game 5 on Monday.

Doncic scrimmaged 5-on-5 with the team this week and didn’t feel any discomfort in his calf. He’s coming off a season where he averaged 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game, shooting an efficient 46% from the floor. He last played on April 10.