Luka Doncic Says 'I Played Terrible' After Mavericks Eliminated by Warriors in Game 5

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2022

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) walks on the court during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic accepted responsibility for the team's Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, which marked the end of the Mavs' playoff run.

Doncic tallied 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but he made just 10 of his 28 shots from the field, posted a game-high four turnovers and struggled defensively.

"I don't like losing, especially like this," the three-time All-Star told reporters. "I played terrible."

It was a successful year for the Mavericks, who reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011. They made the postseason six times over the past 10 years but were eliminated in the opening round each time.

That said, there's always frustration when a team gets that close to playing for a championship only to fall short. For Doncic, his offseason focus will be the defensive end.

"I think defense has got to be way better for me," he said. "Honestly, I think I made a huge step this year defensively, but there's so much room for improvement. I've got to be way better there. I think that's one spot that can take us to the next level."

It's fair self-criticism. Doncic graded out positively in FiveThirtyEight's defensive Raptor for the first time in his four-year career (+0.6), but that still ranked a modest 92nd among qualified NBA players.

There's room for improvement, especially after he often became the main target when opponents attacked the Dallas defense in the playoffs.

Doncic still put together a terrific campaign that saw him finish fifth in NBA MVP voting while leading the Mavericks to a 52-30 record.

"If we talk about our season, I'm really proud of this team—everybody, every player, every staff member," he said. "Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end. Congratulations to Warriors. They were obviously the better team. But I'm really proud of this team."

Dallas is set to return most of the key contributors from this season. Trying to re-sign Jalen Brunson, who averaged 21.6 points in the playoffs, will be the top internal task on the to-do list. Getting Tim Hardaway Jr. back from injury will also help.

Beyond that, the Mavs front office will likely spend most of the summer trying to land another star, either via free agency or a blockbuster trade, to help take some pressure off Doncic at both ends of the floor during next season's championship pursuit.