Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving Ready to 'Fight' Again Next Season After Mavericks' Finals Run

Dallas Mavericks superstars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are eager to compete alongside each other next season and see major potential to contend again.
Jun 14, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts with Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the second half against the Boston Celtics during game four of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts with Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the second half against the Boston Celtics during game four of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Dallas Mavericks' unlikely run to the NBA Finals ended with a 106-88 loss in Game 5, resulting in the Boston Celtics clinching the championship as a fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Mavs' journey involved defeating three teams with 50 or more wins, including the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, and the fourth-seeded LA Clippers.

There were many ups and downs for this Mavericks team, with a long season beginning in September for an early training camp before a 12-day international trip that included stops in Abu Dhabi and Madrid. Despite some external doubt about Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving as a duo, the ability for Dereck Lively II to make enough impact as a rookie, and the team's general outlook to improve defensively before a few midseason trades, Dallas put the pieces together for a 50-win campaign that led to a Finals run.

It's a completely different circumstance entering the offseason this year compared to last. Doncic expressed being proud of his team for reaching this point despite being a group that underwent significant midseason changes.

"I feel great. We did some great moves. I would say we've been together for five months," 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 [the] Finals, but we did have a hell of a season, and I'm proud of every one of them."

After the final buzzer sounded in Game 5, Doncic and Irving embraced, and the Mavericks began making their way off the court at TD Garden. Doncic revealed the interaction involved the two share a mutual understanding that they must come back and fight together next season and believe they can pull off a championship run.

"Just stay together, man. I think just having Kai on my team -- I mean, on our team, he's unbelievable," Doncic said. "Just help him. We said, 'We'll fight together next season, and we just got to believe.' "

While Irving struggled for much of the NBA Finals, he felt the Mavericks answered a lot of questions the team faced entering the season. He views significant opportunity ahead for the team to continue to build on what has already been achieved knowing what worked and where they came up short against Boston.

"We answered a lot of questions this year on what we were capable of doing and now it's just about being consistent," Irving said. "I think probably in the last week, I said that I wanted to be remembered as one of the best teams of this era and our last few champions have been a new one each and every year."

Irving shared a similar belief as Doncic regarding the Mavericks' outlook entering next season, saying, "I see an opportunity for us to really build our future in a positive manner where this is almost like a regular thing for us, and we're competing for championships. I think from a spiritual standpoint, I think I enjoyed this journey more than any other season, just because of the redemption arc and being able to learn as much as I did about myself and my teammates and the organization and the people that I'm around."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd emphasized the impact Doncic has provided at a young age, leading a team to the NBA Finals at 25. Kidd views the standard going forward being for Dallas to "always" be in serious contention for a championship.

"For him at the age of 25 to get to the Finals, to be playing his basketball at the level that he's playing is, now it's just being consistent," Kidd said. "When you have one of the best players in the world, you should be always fighting for a championship."

Despite Doncic playing through a thoracic contusion requiring pain-killing injections, a right knee sprain, and left ankle soreness as frequently listed injuries at points of this postseason run, he wasn't interested in using any of that as an excuse. He felt he didn't make enough impact to guide the team to victory.

"It doesn't matter if I was hurt, how much was I hurt," Doncic said. "I was out there. I tried to play, but I didn't do enough."

Irving was not included on the USA Olympic roster for the Paris Olympics, but Doncic could compete with the Slovenian national team to help qualify. However, Doncic was not ready to commit to playing in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament, which will take place in Greece on July 2-7.

"I don't want to talk about what's next, man," Doncic said. "I have some decisions to make. I'm just trying to get a little bit healthier."

The Mavericks have a quick turnaround time before making decisions in the NBA Draft. However, they only hold the 58th overall pick at this time. Their options for making significant changes going forward will be limited, but there is a feeling among the group that patience could lead to even greater results through building continuity.

While the Mavericks still have the same two backcourt talents as the focal points to build around going forward, there is a luxury in already having a one-two punch at center with Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford while also having a big wing like P.J. Washington. Dallas entered last summer with none of these. Other players are signed for next season that add needed depth as well, including Dante Exum, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber.

Among the top questions the Mavericks face is the future of Derrick Jones Jr. Both sides have expressed a desire to get a new contract done. However, while his impact on the season far exceeded expectations on a one-year, minimum contract, he's surely due for a significantly higher paying contract.

The Mavericks must evaluate if internal progression will be sufficient to justify bringing back largely the same team, or if some sort of additional roster change is needed. The team did struggle against Boston's offense playing a combination of five-out, along with using a four-out, one-in with a guard roaming in the dunker spot. Dallas may need another wing to handle larger matchups on switches. Regardless, more reliable shooting is needed to better open up the lane for Doncic and Irving to attack downhill.

Stick with MavericksGameday for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks throughout the NBA Playoffs.

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Grant Afseth


Grant Afseth is a Dallas Mavericks reporter for and an NBA reporter for NBA Analysis Network. He previously covered the Indiana Pacers and NBA for CNHI's Kokomo Tribune and various NBA teams for USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Follow him on Twitter (@grantafseth), Facebook (@grantgafseth), and YouTube (@grantafseth). You can reach Grant at