NBA

Doncic credits 'smart play' to get Paul into foul trouble as Mavs win

By Sports Desk May 08, 2022

Luka Doncic admitted he exaggerated contact from Chris Paul to get him into foul trouble after the Dallas Mavericks' 111-101 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Doncic came up with 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the Game 4 win but the Mavs' win and levelling of their playoff series was aided by Chris Paul fouling out early in the fourth quarter.

Doncic was key factor in that regard, tumbling towards the baseline after both went up for a rebound and earning a fourth foul for Paul just before half-time.

The 23-year-old declared his respect for Paul and his impact on the Suns, but also hinted he gave the notorious flopper a taste of his own medicine with the tumble and ensuing exchange between the two.

"He [Paul] is one of the best point guards this league has ever had," Doncic said. "His mentality is insane, the way he sees the court, his IQ is amazing, so I think it was big time.

"He was in foul trouble, so we tried to get after him and if you don't have CP out there, it's for sure tougher on their team.

"I saw he was going for the rebound and I was surprised. He said to me if I pushed him that hard. I said, 'No, not that hard, but it was a smart play.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know.'"

While Doncic had a particularly poor shooting night, shooting one-of-10 from the perimeter, he was critical in creating good shots for his teammates.

Dorian Finney-Smith was the primary beneficiary, making a playoff career-high 24 points on eight-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Doncic singled Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock out post-match, specifically for how they've been able to limit Paul's ability to attack the paint as the series has gone on. For the Mavs to win the series though, the three-time All-Star believes Dallas have to show the same intensity and determination on the road.

"That's Reg [Bullock] and Doe [Finney-Smith], those two guys are warriors," Doncic said. "Those two guys, they don't complain about how many shots they get, they just play hard, play defence and I'm really happy to have both of them on our team.

"We've got to play the same way on away games, though. I think the fans helped out a lot, with their energy, but we've got to bring this energy to away games.

"I think it's going to come down to who wins the first away game – maybe, I don't know, but we've got to play with the same energy."

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  • Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals

    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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