Updated June 10th, 2024 at 12:26 IST

Luka Doncic’s triple-double not enough to help Mavericks avoid 2-game hole in NBA Finals vs. Boston

Luka Doncic didn’t get enough support from his Mavericks teammates. This time on a night when the Boston Celtics did everything possible to give Dallas to win

Luka Doncic after loss to Boston Celtics in NBA Finals game 2 | Image:AP
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Luka Doncic is piling up injuries and points in these NBA Finals.

But for the second straight game, he didn’t get enough support from his Mavericks teammates. This time on a night when the Boston Celtics did everything possible to give Dallas a chance to steal a game on the road.

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Doncic connected on 12 of 21 shots and finished with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, marking his 10th career playoff triple double and the first Finals triple-double in Mavericks’ history.

But his teammates went a combined 26 of 59 from the field on a night in which Boston went just 10 of 30 from the 3-point line, and All-Star Jayson Tatum shot 6 of 22 from the field as Boston won Game 2 105-98.

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It all added up to a two-game deficit for the Mavericks as the best-of-seven series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Wednesday.

“Every game we lose is a missed opportunity for us,” Doncic said when asked if felt the Mavs missed a chance to take advantage of an off night by the Celtics. “At the end the day, we have to make shots to win the game.”

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It was the first Game 2 loss of these playoffs for Dallas, which had won three straight — all on the road. The Mavs now face the daunting task of having to beat a Boston team that has lost just twice this postseason in four out of five games. The Celtics are 6-0 on the road this postseason.

Dallas struggled from both the 3-point line (6 of 26) and the free throw line (16 of 24). Doncic was 4 of 8 from the foul line and had eight of his team’s 15 turnovers.

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“The small things, you know, we have to do the small things, and that’s part of the game,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “Those are points that we left on the board, and we didn’t shoot free throws well tonight, and we have to be better.”

Doncic started Game 2 after being listed as probable Sunday morning with a sprained right knee and left ankle before being downgraded to questionable by the afternoon after a bruised chest was added to his list of ailments.

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He was cleared to play after going through his pregame warmup routine. Doncic believes he sustained the chest injury taking a charge in Game 1. During pregame introductions Doncic wore an ice wrap across the side of his chest and knee.

“I always want to play,” Doncic said. “So all day we did a lot of things to get ready for the game.”

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It didn’t seem to bother him at the outset, as he scored six of Mavericks’ first 11 points and Dallas sprinted out to a 13-6 lead in the first quarter.

But his mobility did seem to be lacking on occasion. It showed later in the opening period when Jaylen Brown pushed the ball up the court on a fast break and crossed Doncic over before gliding past him for a two-handed dunk.

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It didn’t slow Doncic down on the offensive end, where he continued to chalk up points and have a verbal back-and-forth with a Celtics fan seated courtside after making consecutive shots.

What may be most troubling for Dallas’ hopes the rest of the series is the play of Kyrie Irving.

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After finishing with just 12 points in Game 1 — the second-fewest of his Finals’ career — Irving improved with 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting, with six assists and two turnovers. But 10 of his points came in the first half, again leaving Doncic on an island down the stretch.

“My teammates look for me to convert a lot of shots and lessen the burden, not only on Luka but the entire team,” Irving said. “It’s on all of us, man. I’m pretty sure if you hear what everybody has to say, they’ll say they have to do something better.”

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More Mavericks players were more involved than in Game 1, with all five Mavericks starters reaching double figures. It was a small consolation to Doncic.

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

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Published June 10th, 2024 at 12:26 IST