Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks
Photo credit: Dallas Morning News

Kyrie Irving's Enhanced Performance: Mavericks' Ticket to Championship

Published March 26, 2024 at 7:24 PM

At 32 years old, Dallas Mavericks' Kyrie Irving thrives, whether with or without Luka Doncic. Improved health is a factor in his sustained performance in his 13th year. His synergy with Doncic in Dallas presents a formidable duo, making the Mavs a playoff threat.

"You watch the movie Benjamin Button?" Irving asked reporters after a recent win. "What if I'm getting more athletic in my early 30s? It appears to be the case, with no screws in my knee, with no almost bad ankle? It took me a few years to get healthy."

Kyrie's prowess as a tough shot-maker remains a standout this season, showcasing remarkable accuracy across all three levels of the court — finishing layups, hitting nearly 50% of midrange shots, and more than 40% of 3-pointers. His unmatched handle and touch persist.

Notably, Irving's physical condition appears improved, evidenced by his jest about setting a career-high in dunks, promptly achieved in a win against the Jazz. Transitioning to the secondary option on the Mavericks has proven beneficial, with his scoring efficiency notably up — 40.6% from 3 and 59.8% true shooting, surpassing career averages. Reduced turnovers indicate a more fluid game, thanks to the partnership with Doncic, who has equally elevated Irving's performance.

Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic are an unbeatable duo.

Despite their sixth-place standing, the Mavericks have been formidable with both Kyrie and Luka, boasting a 28-15 record in such games. This winning rate would position them just outside the top three teams in the West — the Thunder, Nuggets, and Timberwolves.

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The Mavericks' offense thrives with Kyrie-Luka lineups, boasting an impressive 121.9 offensive rating, second only to the Celtics in efficiency. While defensive concerns arise with both players being below-average on that end, their offensive prowess is undeniable.

With many new pieces on the roster, the team needed time to acclimate. However, their evolving chemistry is now becoming a sight to behold.

Irving and Doncic have demonstrated exceptional synergy on the court. Equally noteworthy is their individual impact when playing separately.

While Luka's ability to single-handedly win playoff series is well-known, the Mavericks have often relied too heavily on him, leading to exhaustion by series end. This overdependence was evident last year, as they struggled in non-Luka minutes, being outscored by 2.8 points per 100 possessions when he sat out.

Irving addresses these issues effectively. With Kyrie taking the helm during Luka's breaks, the Mavericks now outscore opponents by 1.5 points per 100 possessions, showing improved performance in those crucial moments.

Irving proves to be more than capable of leading these lineups, averaging 42.3 points and 10.5 assists per 100 possessions with an impressive 63.3 true shooting percentage in Doncic's absence. Essentially, he seamlessly fills the do-everything playmaker role typically occupied by Luka.

This was the initial purpose behind acquiring Irving, and it's proving successful. He's creating challenges for teams trying to double Luka in the post, diversifying end-of-game options (his left-handed game-winner against the Nuggets was a highlight), and preventing the Mavericks from faltering without Doncic.

Over the years, both players have demonstrated their ability to elevate their performances in the postseason. Star power is crucial in playoff scenarios, and the Mavericks now boast a legitimate second option to trouble opponents.

With Luka being Luka and a revitalized Kyrie in the mix, Dallas emerges as a formidable playoff contender — one that no team would relish facing in a seven-game series.

Source Sporting News : Kyrie Irving's improved play with and without Luka Doncic is what Mavericks need to reach championship potential
March 26   |   4 answers
Kyrie Irving's Enhanced Performance: Mavericks' Ticket to Championship

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