Should Mavericks be concerned about Doncic-Irving pairing?


So far, the Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving pairing hasn’t produced the results the Dallas Mavericks hoped it would.

Dallas is 1-4 in the five games that the All-Star duo has played together, with the lone win coming against a San Antonio Spurs squad that was in the midst of a 16-game losing streak. 

Then, Tuesday night brought another low point in the early partnership, as the Mavericks fell 124-122 to an Indiana Pacers squad that entered the game with a 27-35 record.

Doncic put up a strong offensive showing on his 24th birthday, scoring 38 points on 14-for-25 shooting from the field. Irving, meanwhile, struggled, scoring just 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting. 

Yet, it was Irving’s number that was called to take the final shot in Tuesday’s game. He took a 25-foot step-back 3-pointer that would have won the game, but came up short. 

Shannon Sharpe said he was a bit surprised that Mavericks coach Jason Kidd picked Irving to take the big shot, though he understood why he made that choice. 

“It tells me that J-Kidd trusted him and knows that Kyrie can make those shots,” Sharpe said on Wednesday’s “Undisputed.” He struggled all game long, so I’m a bit surprised that they decided to put the ball in his hands and Luka had it going. 

“But we’ve seen it before. On Saturday night, Jayson Tatum struggled for basically the entire game [against the 76ers] and when the [Celtics] needed to make a shot, the coach said, ‘OK, we’ll run this set and get the ball to JT and JT, do what you do.’ He knocked the shot down.”

Mavericks fall to 1-4 with Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving after loss vs. Pacers

Skip Bayless saw the situation differently. He noticed that Tuesday’s game is part of a continued trend so far in the early stages of the Doncic-Irving tandem. 

“They have now played five games together and in the fourth quarter of those five games, Kyrie’s taken 41 total shots in the fourth quarter and the one overtime they’ve played. Luka’s taken 13 shots in all of those fourth quarters and that one overtime,” Bayless said. “Forty-one shots to 14. On Tuesday night, it was eight shots for Kyrie to only three for Luka in the fourth quarter.”

Bayless also disputed Sharpe’s claim that the situation with the Mavericks is similar to the one with the Celtics because he believes everyone in Boston views Tatum as the No. 1 guy, so it’s understandable why he took the game-winning shot against Philadelphia. 

“I have come to respect [Doncic] greatly for his genius of scoring the basketball in the paint and I now officially feel sorry for Luka Doncic,” Bayless said. “His coach, J-Kidd, basically said, ‘Give me Kyrie, and in the clutch and down the stretch with games on the line, I want the ball in Kyrie’s hands.'”

Both Sharpe and Bayless agreed on one thing: Things aren’t looking too promising for the Mavericks, who fell to 32-31 and now hold the seventh seed in the West following Tuesday’s loss. 

“[Kyrie’s] putting a lot pressure on himself,” Sharpe said. “You know that any time you make a trade, especially a guy of Kyrie’s caliber, you know what comes along with that. There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of expectations. Basically, you’re a hired gun, a hired mercenary. You’re brought to deliver something. Right now, it’s not going according to plan.”

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