Luka Doncic Tried Focusing Less On The Refs In Game 5: ‘Sometimes I Forget This Is The Thing I Love’

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Luka Doncic put forth a sensational effort in Game 5 in Oklahoma City, as his 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds lifted the Mavs to a crucial win to reclaim control of the series and create a series-clinching situation in Game 6 back home in Dallas.

The MVP finalist hadn’t looked fully like himself as he deals with a knee issue, but he had also grown increasingly involved with the officials, as Lu Dort’s aggressive and physical defense wore on him. Doncic seemed at times more focused on trying to get Dort in foul trouble than he was at playing his game, and that eliminated some of the Mavs’ offensive rhythm.

That all changed in Game 5, as Doncic seemed to take a very different approach. He seemed much more jovial on the court, even as he dealt out trash talk to the Thunder fans chirping him courtside. Doncic also spent less time berating officials for not giving him calls. That isn’t to say he went the game without complaints, but they were quicker and he seemed to move on from his frustration faster. The result was noticeable, and after the game he told Jared Greenberg that was, in fact, by design.

“I just tried to focus on basketball. Sometimes I forget this is the thing I love.”

Luka on his mindset in the Game 5 W with @JaredSGreenberg pic.twitter.com/xhetNINEOS

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 16, 2024

As Doncic noted, he needed to play the game with joy again and remember, “this is the thing I love.” That seemed to be the case in Game 5, and if he can capture that mentality going forward, the Mavs will likely reap the benefits. Whether it was Doncic himself recognizing he needed to change his focus or someone on Dallas’ staff pointing out how involved he was with the officials, the message got through. He’s certainly more enjoyable to watch when he’s pouring in buckets and rifling pinpoint passes to teammates, rather than trying to grift his way to the foul line, and hopefully we get more of this version of Luka the rest of the postseason.

 


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