Kyrie Irving Backs Luka Dončić After Mavs Star Took Blame for Mavs’ Loss to Celtics

Tyler LogoFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 2024

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 9: Luka Doncic #77 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks high five during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals on June 9, 2024 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyrie Irving isn’t going to allow Luka Dončić to take the brunt of the blame for the Dallas Mavericks’ 0-2 deficit in the NBA Finals.

“He’s not alone, and we are going to tell him that,” Irving told reporters after Sunday’s 105-98 loss to the Boston Celtics. “He’s spilling into his emotions, feels like he could play better, just like me. I would take the brunt of the responsibility. The first two games weren’t the best for me.”

Dončić finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, becoming just the fourth player in NBA Finals history to record a triple-double in a loss. However, Dončić also had eight turnovers and missed four free throws, numbers he pointed to as the reason for the loss.

“I think my turnovers and my missed free throws cost us the game,” Dončić said. “So, I’ve got to do way better in those two categories. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make shots to win the game.”

Irving finished with 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting, his second straight underwhelming performance to start these Finals. The All-Star guard has made just 13 of his 37 shot attempts through the first two games.

“A lot of shots were hitting the back rim,” Irving said. “That could piss you off as a competitor, but it’s all part of the game of basketball. And you have to accept the ups and downs of this. That’s, I would say, the toughest challenge when you’re in a series. You want to play extremely well, especially when you’re playing in a Finals.

“A little disappointed in myself not being able to convert a lot more on my opportunities that I have in the lane. Obviously, I’m going against Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown a few times, but I feel like I have the upper edge on certain possessions where I’ve just got to convert.”

The Celtics have been able to overcome a pair of dreadful shooting performances from star Jayson Tatum, who is 12-of-38 for the series. Their ability to still put together a pair of impressive wins is proof positive of their team building, as Kristaps Porziņģis stepped up huge in Game 1 and Jrue Holiday followed suit in Game 2.

The Mavericks, by contrast, have been overly reliant on Dončić to shoulder the load while his supporting cast fails around him. While the series is far from over heading back to Dallas for Game 3, Dončić will need Irving and the team’s role players to far exceed their previous performances.

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