"He made a few people eat their words"- Kyrie Irving claps back at media for calling out Luka Doncic

Kyrie Irving claps back at media for calling out Luka Doncic
Kyrie Irving claps back at media for calling out Luka Doncic

Kyrie Irving went at Luka Doncic's critics after the latter's solid two-way display in the Dallas Mavericks' 122-84 win in Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals. Doncic had been heavily criticized for his lack of intensity defensively and excessive back and forth with the officials in the first three games, leading to Dallas ending up in a 0-3 hole,

However, a solid bounce-back outing had Irving calling out Doncic's critics, who were harsh on him for his weaknesses.

“I think he made a few people eat their words," Irving said after Friday's win (via Mavericks' beat writer Brad Townsend).
"I’ll say that in a healthy way. I don't want to curse up here or anything like that. I don't want to get in some unnecessary beef, right, between us players and the media."

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Irving pointed out how every mistake Doncic made got magnified while reminding everyone that it was his co-star's first finals run. Irving lauded his ability to respond to criticism and impact the game with a winning performance.

Several NBA analysts critiqued Luka Doncic. ESPN's Brian Windhorst was among them, whose assessment of Doncic's performance after Game 3 went viral.

"His defensive performance is unacceptable," Windhorst said. "The Celtics are ahead in this series because they have attacked him defensively."
"He is costing his team because of how he treats the officials. ... His performance in this game is unacceptable and the reason why the Mavericks are not going to win. He's gotta get over this."

Doncic had numerous lapses defensively in Game 3, akin to Games 1 and 2. He was the entry point for Boston's drive and kick game. Doncic lost his man on almost every possession, while his bickering with the referees cost the Mavericks plenty as he was late to rush back on defense, often giving Boston a five-on-four advantage.

Luka Doncic avoided back and forth with refs and played servicable defense in Game 4

One of the keys to Dallas Mavericks succeeding against the Boston Celtics was them guarding the Eastern Conference champions efficiently in single coverage. That started with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who were expectedly the weak links in the Mavericks' defense. While Doncic lacks foot speed, Irving lacks size and strength against Boston's top seven players.

The two played poorly on defense, which essentially allowed the Celtics to thrive offensively in the first three games. An improved effort from both instantly elevated the Mavericks on both ends of the court. Doncic, in particular, was more engaged. He didn't get blown by as much and was also limiting his conversation with the referees.

His performance reflected that as Luka Doncic dropped 25 points in the first half alone. He finished with 29 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, shooting 46.2%. The Mavericks recorded a 38-point win despite Doncic and Irving combining for 1 of 14 shots from deep, which further explains why them playing at least serviceable defense is critical for the Mavs' success.

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Edited by Arhaan Raje
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