Home Sports Mavs coach Jason Kidd on Luka Dončić: ‘Give my man a break. Let him play the game’

Mavs coach Jason Kidd on Luka Dončić: ‘Give my man a break. Let him play the game’

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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic heads to the locker room after Game 3 of the NBA basketball finals against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Dallas. The Celtics won 106-99. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

DALLAS – Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd mounted a passionate defense of Dallas superstar Luka Dončić ahead of Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals, following two days of criticism of the defensive effort and performance. the MVP finalist’s on-court temperament after he was fouled out with 4:12 remaining. in the Mavericks’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics.

During his pregame session with reporters on Friday, Kidd was asked what it was like watching Dončić navigate everything he’s had to deal with in this series: the enormous offensive workload he has to endure against a crowded defense of the Celtics, the constant attacks of a Boston offense attempted to exploit his defensive deficiencies and a myriad of injuries, including a chest contusion for which he reportedly received a painkiller injection before the second game. he said during an interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews Thursday that he expected to need another before Game 4 in which he and his fellow Mavericks will hope to avoid elimination.

Kidd would not comment on Dončić’s physical health: “I don’t get involved in medical matters; I just repeat “questionable” or “probable”, or whatever it is (listed). “That’s between the doctor and the player.” But did comment on what he considers unfair side hits from his main playmaker.

“Luka has been amazing up to this point and he continues to be amazing,” Kidd said. “For some reason, there have been some personal attacks on him, but he will learn from them. And he will be better when he comes back from this.”

Mavericks guard Luka Dončić heads to the locker room after Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Dallas. The Celtics won 106-99. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

When asked later if there was a specific personal attack that bothered him, Kidd expressed frustration at the idea that a 25-year-old product (even one as decorated and celebrated as Dončić) should not only be finished, but also be impeccable.

“I think when you look at today’s athlete, the game of sports is not about being perfect; it’s just about winning,” Kidd said. “And when you look at what came out here in the last day… if you’ve seen the Mavs, Luka has He improved his defense. But we are asking him – or some are asking him – to be a closed defender. Well, he’s never been on an all-defensive team, but he’s been on five All-(NBA) teams, first team. That means he is one of the top five players in the world. And he’s playing the game the right way, where he can find open players.

“But when you’re on the biggest stage, there has to be someone to make room,” Kidd continued. “This will only make the greats better. When you look, we talked about it yesterday, with LeBron (James), Michael (Jordan), the greats, the GOATs. They were all attacked and came back stronger and better. “I truly believe Luka will come back stronger and better.”

Although he has struggled to consistently make shots against the multiple defenders Boston has thrown at him (after shooting 69% from within 8 feet and 40.1% on step-back 3s). during the regular seasonIt has dropped to 58% in close attempts and 26% in back steps. in this series) and battled fatigue late in games (he only scored eight points on 3-of-15 shooting in the quarterfinals), Dončić has been the main driver of Dallas’ limited success scoring against a dominant Celtics defense.

The league’s leading scorer during the regular season is averaging 29.7 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a series-high 39.4 minutes per game in the Finals on 56.5% 2-point shooting. . In three games, the Mavericks have been outscored by just four points in the 118 minutes he has been on the court and have been beaten by 28 points in the 26 minutes he sat.

Dončić is not the first young star to fight in a high-profile matchup against a top team. And he’s not the first to be attacked when that opponent shines a dazzling megawatt spotlight on the remaining holes in his game, leaving them exposed for all to see. But for Kidd, a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection during his playing career, he lost in the NBA Finals. two times as a star point guard for the New Jersey Nets, and won a ring as the elder statesman facilitator on Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 Mavericks – the criticism imposed on Dončić has crossed the line.

“This is a free country. Everyone has the right to their opinion,” Kidd said. “Sometimes we can go too far, right? And understand: if you were in that person’s shoes, could you plant face to face? Sometimes we want to fry someone, but if you did it the other way around and you were the one being fried, you would most likely not, right? young man has done nothing to anyone other than play basketball. And when they ask him the question, he never runs away from it. And he is 25 years old.

And when the focus is on the few things a player it’s not great compared to the many things he does If he does it right, as Kidd sees it, the conversation about the NBA as a whole will be affected.

“I think what disappoints me the most is that we are at the highest level, where we have one of the best players in the world, playing the game the right way, but we want to criticize some of the things that he is not doing well.” Kidd said. “But when he gets it right, we’ll come back and want to talk to him. And then when he says, ‘No, I’m going to pass,’ then what happens, right? I think sometimes it’s unfair or unjustified to say those things. .No one in this room is perfect, right?

“Then give my man a break. Let him play the game. Because we’re all here to watch him play, so let’s enjoy it. He is 25 years old. He will be better. I hope he’s better tonight.”

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