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The Mavericks played like they had nothing to lose in Game 4 and that’s why they’re heading back to Boston for Game 5

And on Friday night, Irving helped the Mavericks break the Celtics’ bid for a sweep with a 122-84 win. The Celtics are up 3-1 and host the Mavericks in Game 5 on Monday.

Irving said it took a while to adjust to the Celtics, who know his game well. He found it helpful to take a step back, talk to his teammates about the pressure and rely on them to get results.

He dished out a team-high six assists with 21 points on Friday night.

“It’s not just about me versus Celtics or Luka (Doncic) versus Celtics or anyone versus the media,” Irving said. “It’s us against the world, so to speak, against this good Celtics team.

“You saw all those Celtics fans there tonight. They travel in packs. When we go to Boston, some of them will still be shouting a lot of crazy things, but I think we’ve been able to grow and overcome these setbacks. We’re sort of figuring each other out in a crazy way at the highest stage of basketball. It’s a beautiful thing, but it can also be chaotic if you don’t know how to keep going through it. I think we are figuring each other out in those phases.”

The Mavericks held the Celtics to their lowest scoring total of the postseason after Doncic drew heavy criticism for his defense.

Coach Jason Kidd previously said he thought some of the commentary had gone too far, but that Doncic would learn from it and get better. He did that Friday night, Irving said.

“I think he made a few people eat their words,” Irving said. “In a healthy way – I’ll say that in a healthy way. I don’t want to swear here or anything like that and create unnecessary arguments between us as players and the media.

“I think this is his first opportunity and his first taste of what it’s like to be on this stage and not play to your potential or be there towards the end of the game where every mistake is magnified. I think this is probably what I’m really talking about: when every mistake is magnified, there’s a backlash.”

Doncic (29 points, 5 assists) said he doesn’t believe his team’s rebounding performance changes the prospects of the series.

“Like I said at the beginning of the series, it’s the first through four hours,” he said. “We will continue to believe until the end. So we just have to keep going. I have a lot of confidence in this team that we can do it, so we just have to keep believing.”

Irving’s message to the Mavericks before the game was to go home, grab the metaphorical bazooka and hit the Celtics with their best shot. The Mavericks jumped out to a 26-point halftime lead and never looked back.

“That’s how we started the game,” Irving said. “Our ability to go home, get some rest, and not have the same 48 hours to get our bodies ready and recover. So it felt like it was pretty much the regular season in that aspect.

“What I was referring to in that metaphor is, go home, get all the armor, make sure you have all the ammo you need, and prepare for this, because we’re going to have to keep shooting to give ourselves a chance in the attack. end.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla often says the harder-playing, more desperate team wins. Friday night it was the Mavericks.

“Yes, the score. It’s very simple,” Kidd said. “We don’t need to make this complicated. This is not surgery. Our group was ready to leave. They were ready to celebrate. Understand, we have taken a stand. We were desperate.

“We have to keep playing like this; I understand they are trying to find a way to close the door. The hardest thing in this league is closing the door when you have a group that has nothing to lose. You saw that tonight. They let go of the rope pretty early, you know.


Khari Thompson can be reached at [email protected].