1. Stud - Kyrie Irving
After scoring 39 points, with 33 of them coming in the second half, Kyrie Irving chose to speak candidly about his defensive mistakes late in the game against Pat Connaughton and how that adversely affected the Mavericks.
"Connaughton hit a big three in the corner on me in the fourth quarter, and I don't want to put the blame all on me, but I have to take accountability for just my mistakes that I made on the defensive end. To put us in a better position all-around team game defensively. You just have to be better."- Kyrie Irving
Irving’s performance on the court last night was impressive enough, but even more impressive is how much of a selfless and accountable teammate he is proving to be in Dallas. The Mavericks have sorely needed someone of Irving’s pedigree to be a leader, especially as Doncic is just starting to become a vocal leader in Dallas. It gets even better since Irving is finally starting to catch stride this season.
Irving did an excellent job of taking advantage of the Bucks’ drop coverage with Brook Lopez in the middle just as Doncic did last night, as he continually snaked pick-and-rolls and maneuvered delicately through the defense via off-ball screens to make himself available for layups and mid-range jump shots.
Irving did a great job of playmaking once again last night as well and continues to show the dynamism that can be provided offensively when the Mavericks use him and Doncic in direct screening actions between each other.
As Irving referenced, he did have a few times where he got caught ball-watching and couldn’t make a good enough close-out on the likes of Connaughton or Malik Beasley, but Irving played solid defense as per usual last night barring when he wasn’t extremely out-sized on a bad switch.
Irving has been playing extremely well in all facets of the game, but when he’s cooking like he did last night it makes the Mavericks extremely tough to beat. Unfortunately, Irving got off to a pretty rough start and still only made three out of 10 shots from downtown despite how well he was getting to the rim last night.
Irving will need to work on getting out to better starts undoubtedly, as it puts the Mavericks in a precarious position against elite teams when only one of Doncic or Irving is hitting, but Irving certainly did more than enough to mend his first-half woes last night and wasn’t the primary reason Dallas fell whatsoever.
Irving and the Mavericks take on the Sacramento Kings tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, so stay tuned as we’ll have you covered with post-game coverage.