Skip to main content

Nuggets' Michael Malone Praises Mavs' Roster Around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

Nuggets coach Michael Malone praised the Mavs' recent roster-building efforts to surround Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving with talent.

DALLAS — Before the Dallas Mavericks achieved a 107-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon, the Mavs received strong praise from Nuggets coach Michael Malone for the roster-building efforts around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

Malone didn't seem concerned by the Mavs' recent poor perimeter shooting while praising the additions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington to fill needed roles alongside the superstar backcourt. With Doncic's ability to score and pass, the Nuggets — like all opponents — have a tough time accounting for both. 

“Obviously, they went out and picked up a Daniel Gafford, they picked up a P.J. Washington, and you see the impact those guys are having on this team since that trade,” Malone said. “But it’s the same. “They’re top two and three in three-point makes and attempts on the season, and that is where the challenge is in guarding Luka and the Mavs. It is can you take away all of those.”

Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets

Doncic is a natural focus of attention for opposing teams, given his high efficiency in averaging 34.4 points, 9.7 assists, and 9.0 rebounds. However, his adjustment to playing next to Irving makes the Mavs even more challenging to guard.

“Obviously, he came into the league a very mature young player who had played at a high level in the EuroLeague, and you could see him getting better and better,” Malone said. “I think now that he shares the backcourt with Kyrie (Irving), the ball is not in his hands all the time like it usually had been in the past.

“He’s sharing the backcourt with an amazing player in Kyrie Irving, so I think – this is not just about Luka. It’s about the Mavs and using every piece around (Doncic).”

Against the Nuggets, Doncic finished with a double-double, recording 37 points and 10 rebounds. Irving added 24 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and the game-winning shot.

The Nuggets were confident entering the matchup, given that they've handled guarding Doncic as well as anybody in the NBA. 

Denver's approach typically involved the most aggressive blitzing effort of any defense to get the ball out of Doncic's hands and force teammates to attack, with Irving only playing next to him once prior against the Nuggets since being traded last February. 

“I believe on the season to date that we’ve guarded Luka better than anybody,” Malone said. “And it requires a tremendous amount of discipline and just continued multiple effort for 48 minutes.”