P.J. Washington urged the Dallas Mavericks to "stay connected and together" following defeat to the Boston Celtics in their NBA Finals opener. 

The Mavs' first championship series since they were crowned champions in 2011 began with a 107-89 loss against the top seeds of this postseason at TD Garden.

It was Dallas' lowest scoring total during the playoffs, while their tally of just nine assists was the fewest in any match this term as they struggled against a strong Boston defense.

"We just have to stay connected [and] stay together," said P.J. Washington. "We are a great team. They are a great team at the end of the day. We're all right. It's only one game. We'll be better for Game 2."

"The ball has got to move a little bit more," added Kyrie Irving, whose 31.6 per cent shooting from the floor was his lowest in 14 career Finals games.

"That starts with me just being able to push the pace, get us some easy opportunities, and just adjust to what they are throwing at us.

"It's a fun series. It was fun going into the game. It's still going to be fun. But there's going to be a level of chess that still has to be played."

Mavs coach Jason Kidd also issued a rallying cry to his players, who he insisted must not be held back by the occasion.

"Give the Celtics credit," he said. "They did a great job defending, making it tough on us.

"I think this is the best team in the NBA, and they are good for a reason. They play their style of basketball at a high rate. Nerves or not being in this situation, we can't use that as an excuse. It's just basketball."

Luka Doncic loves the big stage, and that's what makes him "special" to Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Doncic again displayed his ability to perform in the biggest moments on Friday as he drained a 3-pointer over four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to lead the Mavericks to a 109-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that leaves them 2-0 up in their Western Conference final.

The Mavericks came back from an 18-point deficit to tighten their grip on the series, with Doncic leading the way. The five-time All-Star ended the game with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to manage four triple-doubles across a five-game postseason span.

Kidd hailed Doncic's game-winning impact, saying there was no other option but to try and get him the ball when deciding what play to run during the timeout with 13 seconds remaining

"As you've seen, he loves that stage," Kidd told reporters. "He doesn't run from it. He made a big shot. Luka is special. He loves those type of moments.

"The play was to get Luka the ball and let Luka do what he does in those moments."

Doncic believes the comeback, the Mavericks' third-biggest in their postseason history, was down to his team's mindset as he ruthlessly snatched the game away from the Timberwolves.

"Like I always say, stay together, positive energy," Doncic explained. "We believed until the end.

"I just saw some space and decided to shoot a 3. Get to my spot, step back. That's it."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd hails Luka Doncic as “one of the best players in the world” after the Dallas Mavericks made it to the Western Conference finals.

P.J. Washington Jr. sank two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining to seal a 117-116 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday to send them to the finals with a 4-2 series win.

Doncic finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third-straight triple-double to help Dallas on their way, with Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. each adding 22 points as they rallied from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

Kidd praised Doncic for another inspired performance after the game, saying: "He's one of the best players in the world, but sometimes we lose sight that it's not just built [around Doncic].

"One guy can't get you there. You need a team. Right now, he's got a team that he believes in."

Doncic is just the fifth player to have three straight playoff triple-doubles in history, and he wants to soak in what he describes as a tough win.

"We won the series. That's what matters in the end," Doncic said.

"We won 4-2, [even though] we didn't have home advantage. It's great that we won, but just struggles are going to come. You got to stay positive and keep hooping.

"Today is about today's game, and tomorrow we'll think about the conference finals.

"I think we should all enjoy this, because this, I would say, was a really hard series."

Kyrie Irving matches his scoring high for the series with his 22 points, but was quick to admire Washington’s late impact.

"I think he [Washington] was just waiting for his moment.

"He's played well the majority of the series, so we had some confidence in him that eventually he would make some big-time shots and grateful that he knocked them down. Man, that's just pure confidence and belief."

Jason Kidd reminded the media that Luka Doncic is "not a robot" after the Dallas Mavericks star turned in a peculiar display against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Doncic delivered his best performance of the playoffs on Wednesday, finishing with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 104-92 victory.

The Mavericks are now just one win away from the Western Conference finals.

But what was different about Doncic's night was the fact he rarely remonstrated with the officials, having previously expanded a lot of energy doing just that in Game 4 of the series.

"He's human; he's not a robot," Kidd said. 

"Sometimes we just pencil in that he's going to put in 30, 10 and 10. You know the playoffs are hard mentally and physically.

"Before the game, understand you are not going to get any calls on the road. You got to understand you got to play through it."

For Doncic, it was a case of just focusing on what he could control.

"Just focus on basketball," Doncic said. "Remember the thing I love, the thing I love to do. Just play basketball.

"I talked to them [the officials] normally, without complaining.

"I think it was the whole game, nothing. So I just go out there and hoop. Have fun, have fun. It was the old Luka, a smile on my face."

Doncic's teammate Derrick Jones Jr suggested the Slovenian's sharpness in the warm-up told him all he needed to know about what was to come.

"I was just sitting back saying, 'It's going to be a long day for them,'" Jones said. 

"Once he gets his rhythm and he's got it going, you can't stop him."

Kyrie Irving believes Doncic can take lessons from his Game 5 performance.

"I think he can learn from this tonight as well as all of us and just continue to affirm to himself that when he is focused on just his game and he's focused on doing the right things, then we flourish as a team," he said.

"I'm not going to sit up here and complain about him. I'm not going to do that.

"I've got to give my brother a little benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it is warranted to get on the guys that are refereeing the game, but I think he found a healthy balance tonight where he was just really focused on getting us going offensively and making the right plays and making sure that we kept our foot on the gas pedal."

Jason Kidd lauded Luka Doncic's defensive work after the Dallas Mavericks saw off the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavs beat the Clippers 96-93 on Tuesday, restoring parity in their playoff series.

Doncic finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds, though it was his defensive efforts that impressed coach Kidd.

"I think his defense has been great this whole series," Kidd said.

"We know they're going to put him in pick-and-roll. A couple years ago we saw this, and we had to tell him to participate.

"But I think he's participating at a high level on both ends. He's leading not just on the offensive end but also the defensive end."

According to ESPN, the Clippers missed all 11 shots that were contested by Doncic, whose teammate Maxi Kleber added: "When he gets his stops like this and pushes it, it's even more fun for us because we already know what he does on offense. 

"It spreads to everybody else. He's bringing the energy, and he's going to set the tone for us. And when he does stuff like that, it gives everybody juice."

Jason Kidd and Kyrie Irving were frustrated by a "passive" performance from the Dallas Mavericks, who went down 109-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

The Mavs were second best throughout the opening contest of their first-round series against the Clippers, who were without talisman Kawhi Leonard.

James Harden stepped up with 28 points in Leonard's absence, Paul George chipped in with 22 and Ivica Zubac contributed a career-high 20 points, adding 15 rebounds.

Dallas, seeded fifth, shot just 38.8 per cent for the game, and were 56-30 down by halftime.

Doncic finished with 33 points, while Irving finished with 31, but the latter was deeply frustrated by the Mavs' display.

"It really centered around the foundational point of talking about physicality and this being the playoffs," Irving said.

"A lot of guys aren't used to being here. A few young guys aren't used to being here, so they don't know what they can get away with and what the refs are going to call.

"I think this was a great first test for us. We obviously failed and we came out with a loss, but I think there are some things we can take into Game 2."

Mavs coach Kidd added: "They were physical and we were passive."

For the Clippers, it was a timely reminder of what Harden is able to offer.

"I can score with the best of 'em," Harden said.

"Still can score with the best of 'em. My role for this team is just generating really good shots and making guys' jobs easier.

"And then when my number to score is called, then you score the basketball. Obviously, Kawhi is out, so my playmaking and my volume is going to go up a little bit more, and took advantage of it."

Zubac lauded his teammate's performance, labelling Harden as "one of the greatest scorers this game has seen".

"James was great," he said. "We needed him and he played great.

"He is one of the greatest scorers this game has seen. He can do that on a nightly basis. It's just the role is different for him in this game and [with Leonard out], we need him to score more and that's what he did and we all know he can do that."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue chipped in with the praise, too, saying: "When he's scoring the basketball and making the right play, it's huge.

"He understands that he doesn't have to do a lot of heavy lifting with Kawhi and PG both on the floor.

"But if one of those guys are out, he has to step up and be aggressive to score the basketball. That is what he has been doing for us of late. I thought he really set the tone early."

Luka Doncic was unable to continue his record-breaking NBA run of six straight 30-point triple-doubles but winning is the priority over individual statistics for the Dallas Mavericks star.

That was the message from Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd after Dallas cruised past the Chicago Bulls 127-92 on Monday.

Doncic had 27 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds, posting yet another triple-double but this time without scoring 30 for the first time in seven games.

"It's about winning to him," Kidd said. "Numbers, I don't know if they really mean anything to him today.

"But when he does retire, he'll look back to see the game that he was playing was at a different level than anybody else."

Doncic exited the rout midway through the fourth quarter but still boasts seven straight 20-point triple-doubles, joining Michael Jordan (1989) and Oscar Robertson (1961) for the longest such streak in NBA history.

Former Bulls center Daniel Gafford also converted all nine field goals, extending his run of consecutive shots without missing to 28, just seven shy of the NBA record.

"My philosophy for sure is just being consistent, having a mindset of just going to finish everything no matter if there's somebody in front of you or if there isn't somebody in front of you," Gafford said.

"At the end of the day, either dunking it or putting it in the rim."

Onuralp Bitim was a rare bright Chicago spark with a career-high 17 points, while DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic each scored 13, though that did not stop Dallas from winning a third straight game.

"We gave up a lot of rolls to the basket and offensive rebounds," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.

"We've got to be more pulled in than we were. ... We kind of were too worried with getting back out to that 3-point line instead of saying, 'Hey, we're going to take away the roll.'"

Luka Doncic became the first NBA player to record six consecutive 30-point triple-doubles in a dominant showing against the Detroit Pistons that Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd lauded.

Doncic finished with 39 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, surpassing Russell Westbrook's record of five straight 30-point triple-doubles, as the Mavericks beat Detroit 142-124 on Saturday.

The Slovenian also extended his own record with a fifth straight 35-point triple-double as the Dallas star continues to run his own NBA MVP competition.

"That just shows what level he's playing on right now," coach Kidd said. "He knows he can score the ball, and he's also able to find his teammates, and lastly, he's able to rebound the ball."

Doncic was somewhat goaded by the Pistons fans, suggesting his ability is not as impressive as some think, but that noise did not bother the Dallas man or Kidd.

"Well, we know he doesn't suck," Kidd said. "I think we know he enjoys when people talk to him. If that's what sparked him, we would like for that to happen a lot more."

Doncic also became the fourth player with 10 35-point triple-doubles in a season, joining Westbrook, James Harden and Oscar Robertson.

Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes or so of the third period, while Kyrie Irving added 21 points for Dallas, who have now won two in a row after a three-game losing streak.

"It's huge for us when [Hardaway] can come in and hit 3-pointers like that," Kidd said. "Not only did he make four, he had two chances at a four-point play."

Cade Cunningham was a rare bright spark for Detroit, making 33 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Simone Fontecchio added a career-high 27 points as the Pistons fell to a 10th defeat in 12.

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said NBA fans are being treated to something "as rare as a Picasso" after Luka Doncic extended his run of 30-point triple-doubles to five games on Thursday.

Doncic had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Mavs rallied for a 114-108 win over the Miami Heat, fighting back from 15 points down to halt their three-game skid.

The NBA's scoring leader for 2023-24 shot 12 of 24 from the field and made seven of 13 3-pointers as he claimed a slice of league history with another dominant display.

He joined Russell Westbrook as the only players to record five straight 30-point triple-doubles, also becoming the first in league history to manage four straight 35-point triple-doubles.

The enormity of Doncic's achievement was not lost on Kidd, who managed 107 triple-doubles dring his own playing career but only had 35 points in two of them.

"I've always said this: We can't take that young man for granted," Kidd said of Doncic. "You're seeing something as rare as a Picasso."

Doncic's last two performances have come with the Slovenian walking a disciplinary tightrope. Having been pulled up for 13 technical fouls this season, Doncic is just three shy of the threshold for a one-game suspension, but he has avoided committing one in his last two outings.

Kidd joked that run was as important as Doncic's triple-double sequence, saying: "We're rolling. You talk about the triple-double streak. I think we've got the no-T streak going!

"That's something we have to talk about, too. I think he has a little bit more energy now and I think his composure is in a really good place, no matter whether we're winning or losing. 

"He loves to win. He wants to win, but I think you're starting to see him turn the corner here."

Doncic himself, however, was simply pleased to get back to winning ways as the Mavs improved to 35-28, saying of his form: "It's great, especially when it comes with the win. That's all that matters right now."

Dallas now face back-to-back road games against the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, before returning to American Airlines Center to face the Golden State Warriors next Wednesday. 

Luka Doncic does not have answers for the dismal Dallas Mavericks defense, after another of his triple-doubles meant little in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Doncic posted 39 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists on Tuesday, registering his 14th triple-double of the season.

The Slovenian is averaging 34.6 points per game this season, and is on course for a career-best PPG return.

Yet in spite of Doncic averaging 37.3 points in the past six games, the Mavericks have lost five of those.

"It doesn't matter," Doncic said when asked about his fine form. "I just want to win, man. That's it."

"I don't know, honestly. We know we got to fix it."

Coach Jason Kidd was equally as frustrated.

"We got the personnel. We got the team," said Kidd.

"This is actually a great test for us to be able to go through a hard time in March because it only gets harder in April and May and June.

"And so this is a great test to be tested in the sense that we're going to let go of the rope or we're going to continue to come to work. Everyone's coming to work. Everyone has the positive mindset, energy.

"Everyone's trying to do the right thing right now."

Kidd put the onus on Doncic's teammates to help out the NBA's leading scorer this season.

"Are we asking too much? I don't know if we're asking," he added.

"This is what he does. He's one of the best offensive players on the planet, and so this is what he does and so we have to help him on that end and we have to also help him on the defensive end. This isn't a surprise, he's been doing this pretty much his whole career.

"He's a walking triple-double. He's doing everything to help the team win. We all have to pitch in and help him."

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have proved any doubters wrong after leading the Dallas Mavericks to a seventh straight win.

That is the opinion of coach Jason Kidd, whose Dallas team overcame the Phoenix Suns 123-113 on Thursday.

Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists, while Irving finished with 29 points.

Dallas have been without at least one of Doncic or Irving in 27 games this season due to injuries, but the duo have now started in the last seven games.

"I think it answers the questions that those two co-exist quite well," Kidd said.

"I think it just shows again, our health, our energy, everything's positive right now. I think the guys are having fun. You can see that energy on the floor.

"They want to win, and you can see that energy on the floor. Those guys are cheering for one another.

"There's going to be mistakes, there's going to be missed shots, but it's on to the next play.

"You can see that. We were on a roll and then we go on [the All-Star] break. Sometimes you can come out flat, but I thought the guys did a great job tonight."

Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points, though Phoenix were unable to keep Doncic or Irving down.

"You just have to know that, especially after he makes one, that the next one is coming up," Booker said of Irving.

"He's a great player and hard to guard. We definitely could have limited some of those transition looks."

The Suns have lost two of their last four games, and are now one place below the Mavericks in the Western Conference.

"We didn't start the third quarter with enough attentiveness," Suns coach Frank Vogel said.

"We did get a little too stagnant offensively. We had some breakdowns with what we were supposed to do. That led to some tough possessions."

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd heaped praise on Luka Doncic after his franchise-record 73 points helped them past the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, declaring: "He is the game plan".

The Mavs arrived at State Farm Arena looking to halt a three-game losing run, and Doncic ensured they did exactly that with a historic performance in their 148-143 victory.

He tied Wilt Chamberlain and David Thompson for the fourth-best return in NBA history. Chamberlain also holds the scoring record with a 100-point game and also had a 78-point performance to his name, while Kobe Bryant racked up 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

Doncic's incredible performance came just four days after the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid brought up 70 points in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Kidd was more than happy to let Doncic take centre-stage and believes the Slovenian will have been frustrated to miss out on a triple-double after adding 10 rebounds and seven assists.

"He is the game plan," Kidd said of Doncic. "The three assists are what he's probably thinking about in the locker room to have a triple-double!"

Doncic himself was focused purely on helping Dallas end their slump, saying: "We've been struggling lately, so the mindset was to go and get a win. We played great."

He was not the only player to put in a huge performance on Friday, with Devin Booker scoring 62 points for the Phoenix Suns, only to finish on the losing side against the Indiana Pacers. 

Obi Toppin's putback broke a tie with just under four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, guiding Indiana to a 133-131 victory and ruining Booker's remarkable display.

"He's a great player," Toppin said of Booker. "But in that fourth quarter, we decided to hit and send another defender to get the ball out of his hands and just scramble out of that. They didn't like it at all. I think it was their worst quarter.

"We needed points so our objective was just to get involved, crash the boards. I saw Bennedict [Mathurin] try to finish over someone and then Pascal [Siakam] was right in front of me, so I just grabbed the ball and put it in."

Jason Kidd claimed Luka Doncic is "taken for granted" before he walked out of his press conference following the Dallas Mavericks' win over the Houston Rockets.

The Mavericks, whose owner Mark Cuban is reportedly close to selling a major stake in the franchise, beat the Rockets 121-115 on Tuesday to prevent Houston from advancing in the NBA's in-season tournament.

Doncic, who played just three days after sustaining a thumb sprain, had 41 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, playing a key role at both ends of the court.

"Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn't," said Kidd. "He's about winning, too. It just happens that he's a walking triple-double.

"Tonight, he had some great looks, but I think he's not looked upon, or you guys haven't really talked about his defense. He's competing defensively. He's taking the challenge.

"But again, when you're that good, someone has to pick at something. Unfortunately, you guys don't see the game totally all the time but he's competing defensively.

"For him to get on the floor, it just shows that he's all about winning, too."

Defiance was a theme of Kidd's post-game news conference, as the coach lashed out at reporters for being overly critical of the time it has taken Kyrie Irving and Doncic to form a formidable partnership.

"Maybe it's the things that you guys thought should have happened day one. It takes time – failing is alright, it's not a bad thing to fail for a pro athlete, as you can learn and get better from it," he said.

"Those two are the best in the world and we feel very comfortable with those two having the ball. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't – and we learn from it.

"Write some positive s***. It's alright to write positive stuff, people will read positive s***. You don't have to be negative, the world's already negative enough. Let's see some positive stuff on positive people who are doing their job on a nightly basis."

Irving finished with 27 points, with 22 of those coming in the second half.

"Yeah, he can go off [at] anytime," Doncic said of Irving.

"There were a couple of insane layups, which isn't insane for us because we see it all the time. But his play has been amazing, and his leadership has been amazing. We are just happy to have him on our team."

Nikola Jokic opened his season with another triple-double and Jamal Murray scored 21 points as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 119-107 on Tuesday after raising their NBA championship banner.

Jokic had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his 106th career triple-double, which trails only Russell Westbrook (198), LeBron James (107) and Jason Kidd (107) on the career list.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 20 points, Aaron Gordon added 15 and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, which went 16-4 in the playoffs last season, including a sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

All of Los Angeles’ starters scored in double figures, led by James’ 21 points in 29 minutes as his playing time was being monitored at the start of his 21st season.

Denver led by as many as 18 points, but the Lakers whittled the lead down to three on James’ 3-pointer with 9:42 remaining.

James’ basket got Los Angeles within 103-96 with just over five minutes to play, but the Nuggets responded with a 10-3 run featuring 3s by Murray and Porter.

Booker sparks Suns past Warriors

Devin Booker scored 32 points and the Phoenix Suns got past the Golden State Warriors 108-104 in Kevin Durant’s return to the Bay Area in a back-and-forth season opener for the Pacific Division powerhouses.

Booker shot 13 of 21 and had eight assists and six rebounds, while Jusuf Nurkic added 14 points and 14 boards – including a key driving layup in the closing seconds - in his Suns debut.

Josh Okogie sank a baseline jumper with 69 seconds left, and Eric Gordon drained a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to play before Stephen Curry’s 3 drew Golden State within 106-104 with 31 seconds to go.

Nurkic’s layup made it a four-point game and Paul’s missed 3 ended the Warriors’ hopes.

Durant scored 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting with 10 rebounds in his first game in front of Bay Area fans since leaving the Warriors after the 2019 NBA Finals.

Curry had 27 points and Chris Paul had 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his Warriors debut facing his most recent team.

The NBA is investigating the Dallas Mavericks' team selection from their 115-112 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

The defeat ensured Dallas miss out on the play-in tournament but retain their number 10 slot in the 2023 draft lottery, still owing the New York Knicks a top-10 protected pick as part of a 2019 trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis.

The Mavericks left out Kyrie Irving, Josh Green, Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood, while Luka Doncic only played the first quarter at American Airlines Center.

Mavs coach Jason Kidd had called it an "organisational decision", later adding: "It's not so much waving the white flag. It's [that] decisions sometimes are hard in this business. We're trying to build a championship team. With this decision, this is maybe a step back. But hopefully it leads to going forward."

Owner Mark Cuban had previously denied his team would deliberately tank, saying on Wednesday: "The guys don't want to do that. Players aren't going to do that. Players don't do that."

However, multiple reports on Saturday said the league would be looking into the matter, citing a statement from NBA spokesperson Mike Bass on Saturday.

"The NBA commenced an investigation today into the facts and circumstances surrounding the Dallas Mavericks' roster decisions and game conduct with respect to last night's Chicago Bulls-Mavericks game, including the motivations behind those actions," Bass said.

Kidd has already confirmed his star players will also not feature in Dallas' final game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

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