2024 NBA Finals: Luka Doncic plans to have ‘fun’ in Game 4 as Mavericks in must-win situation against Celtics

Written by on June 14, 2024

The Dallas Mavericks‘ loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals was not Luka Doncic’s finest moment. His numbers were fine, but his constant complaining to referees, turnstile defense and fouling out at a critical juncture with just over four minutes left severely hindered his team’s ability to complete a comeback. It was made worse when he doubled down on his complaining after the loss, blaming the officials for him fouling out instead of taking ownership of his poor effort on defense. 

He’s only a piece of the puzzle of the Mavericks’ woes against the Celtics, and on Friday night, they’ll be trying to stave off being swept and force a Game 5. As Dallas hopes to regroup from their most recent loss, Doncic has set his intentions for how he plans to attack Game 4.

“Go back to playing fun,” Doncic said. “We talk about how we come back from [21] points in the fourth quarter in the Finals. We were having fun. We were defending. We were running. Our pace was great. Just taking good shots.”

Doncic has used the refrain “playing fun” before, in fact he said something similar after the Mavericks beat the Thunder in Game 5 of their second-round series. That came after a Game 4 performance in which Doncic again spent too much time complaining to referees, and he bounced back to lead his team to a crucial win.

In Game 3, after falling behind by 21 points and getting booed by their own fans, the Mavericks nearly completed a comeback after going on a 20-2 run in the fourth quarter. They forced the Celtics to settle for low-quality shots, communicated on defense, and got solid production out of Kyrie Irving, PJ Washington and Dereck Lively II.

You could feel the Mavericks playing with renewed energy after a third quarter where they allowed the Celtics to blow the game wide open with a significant lead. But all that energy was zapped after Doncic picked up his fourth foul in the fourth quarter — sixth for the game — with under five minutes to play. The door was closing on Dallas’ chances of winning that game as soon as Doncic fouled out, and while Irving and Washington tried their best, it wasn’t enough to overcome a Boston team that had dominated them in each of the first three games.

But it sounds as though Doncic is washing the bad taste of Game 3 out of his mouth, and trying to focus on putting in a better performance for his teammates.

“I just really want to win,” Doncic said. “Sometimes I don’t show it the right way, but at the end of the day, I really want to win. I’ve got to do a better job showing it a different way.”

The Mavericks will surely come out aggressive and with hopes of avoiding a sweep, but that was the game plan in Game 3 and it fell apart. We’ll have to see if Doncic and the Mavericks can keep their composure better in Game 4.

The post 2024 NBA Finals: Luka Doncic plans to have ‘fun’ in Game 4 as Mavericks in must-win situation against Celtics first appeared on CBS Sports.


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