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Luka Doncic on fouling out, ‘We couldn’t play physical’



Luka Doncic on fouling out, ‘We couldn’t play physical’

2024 NBA Finals – Game Three

Boston’s halfcourt offensive strategy is to hunt Luka Doncic and make him defend.

Wednesday night that led to foul trouble. A couple of silly fouls — that third-quarter reach-in was a poor decision — and a couple of 50/50 calls in the fourth quarter not going his way, and Doncic fouled out when Dallas was on a 20-2 run that had turned a 21-point Boston lead into just three. After Doncic fouled out (and for much of the game, even when he played), the Mavericks could not generate enough offense and lost to go down 0-3, and the writing for this series is on the wall.

“We couldn’t play physical,” Doncic said of his sixth foul. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say nothing. You know, six fouls in the NBA Finals, basically I’m like this [motions with palms out]. C’mon, man. [Be] better than that.”

“Yeah, he’s definitely got a bull’s-eye on his chest,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s got to be able to guard and understand that we’re there to protect him and help him if he does get beat.”

Take a look at all six fouls called on Doncic.

Mavericks fans will be upset about the sixth one, but that’s a 50/50 call — Jaylen Brown initiated the contact but Doncic was not in a legal guarding position. The fifth call was 50/50, too. Doncic pushed and tripped Brown, but Brown hooked him with his arm, that might have been the one to challenge.

Doncic also put himself in position with a couple of silly fouls, like the reach-in from behind on Payton Pritchard and fouling Derrick White in the backcourt. He also got back into his bad habit a couple of times of barking at the official after a no-call and not getting back on defense, and Boston is too good to let them go five-on-four.

Maybe Doncic gets the benefit of the doubt on some borderline calls in Game 4, but if Dallas is going to win he simply has to be better defensively. He will again be a target, and he has to be better to keep them in the game — the Mavericks can’t go down by 21 again. Doncic’s fouling out may have snuffed out a comeback run, but the fact that he had to make that comeback may be the bigger story.

If there is going to be a Game 5, Doncic is going to have to defend better and stay on the court. Then get a lot more help.

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