Doncic and Irving can't deliver for Dallas in NBA Finals clincher as Celtics win 18th championship


BOSTON — Short jumpers rolled off the rim and 3-pointers went in and out. Even free throws were a challenge for Luka Doncic in the clinching game of the NBA Finals.

Dallas needed Doncic and Kyrie Irving to be at their best in Game 5 against the Celtics on Monday night. Instead, the Mavericks’ best players got off to a terrible start, and by the time their shots started falling the Celtics were coasting to a 106-88 victory and an unprecedented 18th NBA title.

“It just wasn’t our night offensively,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said after his fifth-seeded team fell short of its second NBA title. “We’re a young team. We have a young core, and so this is an exciting time to be a Mavs fan and to also be a coach for the Mavs.”

Doncic missed his first six 3-point attempts and finished 12 of 25 from the floor. He scored 28 points — 10 of them in the fourth quarter, when Dallas never got closer than 18 points. He had 12 rebounds but also turned the ball over seven times. He was 2 for 5 from the free throw line, a problem that has bothered him throughout the series.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Kidd said. “For him at the age of 25 to get to the finals, to be playing his basketball at the level that he’s playing — now it’s just being consistent.”

The Slovenian star said injuries — a bruised chest, and problems in his right knee and left ankle — weren’t the problem.

“It doesn’t matter if I was hurt, how much was I hurt. I was out there,” he said. “I tried to play, but I didn’t do enough.”

Irving was 3 for 9 from 3-point range and 5 of 16 overall while fending off boos and crude chants from his former fans every time he touched the ball. He had nine assists but 15 points — six of them in the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of reach.

“The crowds can chant whatever they want to chant. When we’re away, they’re obviously going to go against us,” Dallas guard Josh Green said. “He does a great job of not letting it affect him and I think that goes back to his leadership on and off the court.

“So we have nothing but respect for Kyrie. … We all got his back, for sure.”

Irving and Doncic shared a hug at the end of the game.

“We said, ‘We’ll fight together next season,’ and we (are) just going to believe,” Doncic said. “I’m proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches, all the people behind. Obviously, we didn’t win finals, but we did have a hell of a season and I’m proud of every one of them.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba



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