Report: Mavs teammates have told Luka Doncic to stop whining to refs, give more effort on defense and be in better shape

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Teammates of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic have allegedly told the 25-year-old in the past to make three changes in order to help the team, and a perceived lack of improvement in those areas arguably has played a part in the fact that the Mavericks face an 0-3 deficit against the Boston Celtics in the 2024 NBA Finals.

“In the three seasons he has coached Doncic, [Jason] Kidd has told him several truths: that he needed to stop making enemies of officials with persistent whining; that he needed to give a more consistent effort on defense; and that he needed to get in better shape to be at his best when his team needed him,” Ramona Shelburne wrote.

“Kidd has said these things publicly and privately. So have Doncic’s teammates in Dallas and on the Slovenian national team.”

Doncic’s penchant for complaining to the referees was on full display in the Mavericks’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night. The guard fouled out of the game with just a few minutes to go, and after the contest, he criticized the referees while speaking to the media.

Game 3 marked just the third time in his NBA career that Doncic fouled out of a game for the Mavericks.

He got off to a hot start during the contest by scoring 11 points in the first 10 minutes, but he wasn’t able to carry over his first-quarter performance into the final three frames of the contest. After the first quarter, Doncic shot just 6-of-18 from the field.

The Slovenian totaled 27 points on 11-of-27 shooting from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range to go along with six rebounds, six assists and one steal in a game the Mavericks lost by a final score of 106-99.

But Doncic got in foul trouble and eventually fouled out. He struggled all night long on the defensive side of the floor as the Celtics forced him in pick-and-roll actions early and often in Game 3. Doncic didn’t really provide much on defense against one of the NBA’s most potent offenses.

It may be too late for Doncic and the Mavericks to get back into this best-of-seven series, even if Doncic were to ramp up his defensive intensity for Friday’s Game 4.

After all, no team in NBA playoff history has won a series after trailing 0-3 at one point in time, and only one team in the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers — who boasted a star trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love — has won the championship series after trailing 1-3.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.