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Offseason | NBA Week 26

Down 3-1, Mavs striving to make history against Celtics

Sun Jun 16 6:07pm ET
Field Level Media

Luka Doncic wasn't going to let the Dallas Mavericks go down quietly.

With Dallas facing a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, Doncic rose to the occasion and led the Mavericks to a 122-84 shellacking of the Boston Celtics on Friday night in Game 4 on his home court.

Doncic went for 29 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals, a performance that virtually erased a fourth-quarter collapse in Game 3 that subjected the Dallas star to scrutiny from media across the country.

In that game, the Mavericks trailed by 21 following a Derrick White 3-pointer with 11:07 left in the game before mounting a feverish rally that got them within 93-90 with 6:11 to go. But with 4:12 remaining, Doncic stepped in front of Jaylen Brown to try and draw a charge and was called for a blocking foul -- his sixth personal.


Dallas challenged the call, which stood, sending Doncic to the bench for the remainder of the contest. Doncic committed four of his fouls in the final quarter.

Kyrie Irving later sank a jumper to make it a one-point game, but without Doncic, the Mavericks never found a way to move in front, leading to the 3-0 series deficit.

In Dallas coach Jason Kidd's eyes, a lot of the criticism was unwarranted, and Doncic proved why on Friday.

"He was Luka. He's been Luka. There wasn't a different Luka out there," Kidd said following Game 4. "He played at a high level. He was great. He's been great. He's one of the best players in the world. As much as we want to criticize, he's a hell of a player."

And although Kidd didn't say anything to Doncic directly, Doncic was pleased to hear that his coach was sticking up for him.

"That speaks a lot about him. He always has players' backs. He always supports us," Doncic said. That's a big thing, to have a coach like that."

Still, the Mavericks have an uphill battle down 3-1 in the series. NBA teams to lose the first three games of a best-of-seven playoff series are 0-156 -- 0-14 in the finals -- but making history is still on the table for Dallas.

"Our group was ready to go. They were ready to celebrate," Kidd said of why Game 4 played out the way it did. "Understand, we made a stand. We were desperate. We got to continue to keep playing that way. ... The hardest thing in this league is to close the door when you have a group that has nothing to lose. (Friday) you saw that."

If the Mavericks want to take another step toward the greatest comeback in league history, they will now have to take care of business in Boston on Monday. Celtics veteran Al Horford said his team should have no problem moving on from the ugly Game 4 performance.

"You know, after we won Game 1, we put that behind us," Horford said. "You know, Game 2, kind of same thing and so on, and we are at this point now. ... We have to take some things that we can be better at and try to fix them, and then you know, others kind of throw them out and just kind of do that and make sure that we come out and we play Celtics basketball.

"I think ultimately that's what it comes down to for us, and there's a lot of things that we can control and that I expect us to be much better on Monday."

Dallas lost Games 1 and 2 in Boston, with Irving, a former Celtic who burned bridges with the organization by signing with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019, getting berated by fans any time the ball was in his hands.

However, Irving said he believes the Mavericks will be ready to combat the hectic environment this time around.

"When we go to Boston, there's going to be a bunch of (fans) yelling a whole bunch of crazy stuff still, but I think we've been able to grow and face kind of this adversity head on," Irving said. "We're figuring out each other in a crazy way during the highest stage of basketball. It's a beautiful thing, but it also can be chaotic if you don't know how to stay poised through it.

"I think we're figuring out each other throughout those phases."

--Nick Galle, Field Level Media

Player Notes
Jalen Smith Sun Jun 16 3:10pm

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com, there's an "early belief" that Indiana Pacers forward/center Jalen Smith will decline his $5.4 million player option and enter free agency this offseason. The 2020 No. 10 overall pick has spent the last three seasons with the Pacers. He averaged 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks during the 2021-22 campaign. However, his production has trended downward since. Smith saw limited action for the Pacers in 2023-24. Yet, in his 14 starts, he averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. It's evident Smith can be productive, so a change of scenery could do wonders for his fantasy value heading toward the regular season.

Jarace Walker Sun Jun 16 3:10pm

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com, teams around the National Basketball Association are "monitoring" the availability of Indiana Pacers forward Jarace Walker. Indy could match offers for Obi Toppin this offseason. If that happens, Walker could be on the move. The 2023 No. 8 overall pick had a forgettable rookie year, averaging just 3.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 33 games. He also spent time in the G League, although he played much better. For now, Walker's value is limited, and he likely won't find his way onto fantasy rosters unless he gets some minutes, which isn't expected to happen in Indiana or for another club, for that matter.

Isaiah Hartenstein Sun Jun 16 3:10pm

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com, impending free-agent forward/center Isaiah Hartenstein is drawing interest from more teams. While OKC has been rumored to covet his services, Scotto, citing league sources, reported the Orlando Magic could be a team to watch this summer. The 26-year-old drew 49 starts for New York during the 2023-24 campaign, averaging 8.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks. He was also instrumental in helping the Knicks advance deep into the postseason. But New York likely won't be able to afford to keep Hartenstein on the roster, meaning Orlando, a team with plenty of cap space this summer, could make him a strong offer.

Tyrese Haliburton Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) reported he's progressing in his recovery from another hamstring injury sustained during the Eastern Conference Finals. "The hamstring is good," said Haliburton during an interview on Friday. "Today, I ran for the first time at full speed." The 24-year-old is coming off another productive season, amassing 20.1 points, 10.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. But he missed time because of injury in 2023-24, appearing in 69 games after playing in just 56 the year before. Haliburton still plans to suit up for Team USA in the Olympics. With that in mind, he could be a top-10 fantasy option in all formats during the 2024-25 campaign, although he needs to figure out how to stay on the floor.

Mikal Bridges Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

According to Fred Katz of the New York Times, the Brooklyn Nets are staying firm on their unwillingness to trade forward Mikal Bridges. Per Katz, league sources have contacted Brooklyn about acquiring the former Sun, with teams offering "hoards of first-rounders." However, the Nets haven't budged. After the 27-year-old was traded from Phoenix in 2022-23, he averaged a career-high 26.1 points in 27 games in Brooklyn. But his production declined significantly last season, with Bridges ending the year by averaging 19.6 points. At any rate, the Nets are in rebuilding mode, and it appears the franchise wants to build around Bridges. Brooklyn also has a new coach in Jordi Fernandez, which could help Bridges turn things around for fantasy managers in 2024-25.

Kristaps Porzingis Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) will play on Friday night against Dallas. He suffered a dislocated posterior Tibialis in Game 2 on Sunday night and wasn't available for Game 3 on Wednesday. With that in mind, Porzingis may only play in certain situations, so it may be tough for him to do anything meaningful for DFS managers.

Luka Doncic Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (chest) scored a game-high 29 points in Friday's win over the Boston Celtics. He added five boards, five assists, and three steals. Doncic entered this contest carrying an injury designation because of a thoracic contusion. But, as expected, he was on the floor for Game 4. The 25-year-old failed to make any of his eight tries from deep. But that didn't matter, as Dallas cruised to a much-needed win on Friday night. With the Mavs still training two games, both teams will pack their bags and head to Boston for Game 5 on Sunday. DFS managers should expect to see Doncic back on the injury report. However, he will be ready to go.

Jayson Tatum Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum had 15 points in Friday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He added five rebounds, two blocks, and one steal. The 26-year-old had 31 points in Game 3 on Wednesday evening. However, the Mavs took a big lead early, so Tatum logged only 27 minutes before calling it a night. With the C's still up two games, the series will head back to Boston for Game 5 on Sunday night. The game should be more competitive, meaning Tatum has an excellent chance to bounce back.

Jaylen Brown Sat Jun 15 3:00pm

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown struggled in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. He scored 10 points, shooting a rough 3-for-12 from the field and 1-for-5 from downtown. The 27-year-old had 30 points in Game 3 on Wednesday. However, he wasn't nearly as potent in Game 4. With the Celtics still up two games in the NBA Finals, both teams will head to Boston for Game 5 on Sunday. Brown is due for a dominant performance, so DFS managers should keep him in mind for their lineups.

Kristaps Porzingis Fri Jun 14 2:50pm

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) might play in Game 4 of the NBA Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks. He suffered a dislocated posterior Tibialis in Game 2 on Sunday and wasn't available for Game 3. But the 28-year-old, who was initially believed to miss the rest of the Postseason, has a chance of suiting up for Game 4. However, Porzingis is also dealing with swelling, so the C's may play it safe and keep him off the floor, considering the team is just one win away from an NBA title. For now, he's officially questionable. But if Porzingis can't play, Al Horford, who had eight points, five boards, two steals, and one block on Wednesday, will likely stay with the first five.

Luka Doncic Fri Jun 14 2:50pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (chest) is probable for Game 4 of the NBA Finals against Boston on Friday night. He has a thoracic contusion, resulting in several pain-killing injections ahead of Game 3 on Wednesday night. But the Mavs are just one loss away from losing the series, so there's basically no chance he won't be on the floor. Doncic has averaged 29.7 points, 9.0 boards, 6.0 assists, and 2.3 steals in the series' first three games, making him worthy of DFS roster consideration.

Sasha Vezenkov Fri Jun 14 2:50pm

According to Fox 40's Sean Cunningham, citing league sources, Sacramento Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov plans to finish the contract he agreed to with the team last offseason. Mihalis Stefanou of EuroHoops.net reported Vezenkov wanted out of Sacramento while indicating the 28-year-old was considering heading back overseas. However, Cunningham denied the report's validity, with a league executive calling it "off base." The 2023 EuroLeague MVP averaged 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37.5% from deep in the 2023-24 campaign. It's likely teams will inquire about a possible trade this offseason. But with the Kings' roster not set in stone for 2024-25, Vezenkov carving out a meaningful role in Sacramento isn't out of the question.

Dennis Schroder Fri Jun 14 2:50pm

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Schroder reiterated to his hometown reporters that he wanted to remain with the team. The veteran guard said, "I'd definitely like to stick around for the long haul. My agent and I feel like the Nets liked how I contributed." In 29 games with the Nets this season, Schroder averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 threes per game while shooting .424/.412/.797. Brooklyn has a lot of question marks heading into the offseason with point guard being a very big one. Ben Simmons hasn't been healthy, Dennis Smith Jr. isn't under contract, and Cam Thomas hasn't fit the point guard mold that well. Schroder knows they could make moves for a star player, but he'd like to bring more leadership to the team past this season.

Donovan Mitchell Fri Jun 14 2:50pm

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is one of the bigger dominoes in this coming offseason landscape. At first, there were hesitations and worries around the league that Mitchell would not stay in Cleveland. Now, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, there's a "league-wide expectation" that Mitchell and the Cavs are going to agree on an extension that could pay him up to $208 million. On top of that, Fischer reports that the team isn't looking to trade any of their core four players which includes Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley.

Kristaps Porzingis Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) is out for Wednesday's matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. The veteran suffered a "rare" left posterior Tibialis dislocation. While he had every intention of suiting up, the medical staff didn't feel it was in his best interest. There's a growing concern that Porzingis won't return for the remainder of the NBA Finals. But while he's sidelined, Al Horford is worth rostering in DFS contests.

Luka Doncic Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (chest) will suit up for Game 3 of the NBA Finals versus Boston. The 25-year-old has gotten banged up throughout the postseason. He began the playoffs by battling knee and ankle soreness. However, his latest ailment, a thoracic contusion, is severe enough to warrant a pain-killing injection. With that said, Doncic averaged 31.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.0 steals in the first two contests against the Celtics. But the injury is something for DFS managers to keep in mind, considering it could negatively impact his play on Wednesday night.

Markelle Fultz Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

Impending free-agent guard Markelle Fultz hopes to remain with the Magic. "I built a lot of great relationships here," said Fultz during a recent interview. "I understand some guys are going to be gone." The 2017 No. 1 overall pick averaged a career-high 14.0 points in 60 games during the 2022-23 campaign. However, he made only 43 appearances last season due to injury while averaging 7.8 points, his fewest since his rookie year. Without question, Fultz will draw attention from a handful of teams during the offseason. But his inability to stay healthy over the years hasn't sat well with fantasy managers. Fultz's career 27.4% shooting from behind the arc is another issue, which isn't expected to improve anytime soon.

Kristaps Porzingis Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there is "real doubt" about the availability of Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) for the remainder of the NBA Finals against the Mavericks. The veteran suffered a posterior Tibialis dislocation in Game 2 on Sunday night. While he tried to test things out ahead of Game 3, the C's medical staff made the call to keep him off the floor. Porzingis recently returned for Game 1 after missing over a month because of a Soleus strain. Although he came off the bench in the first two games of the NBA Finals, he still averaged 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Nonetheless, the 28-year-old may need surgery. But while Porzingis is on the shelf, Al Horford will likely continue to start.

Darius Garland Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, citing league executives, teams around the NBA are "backing off" from trying to acquire Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland. Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman recently indicated the team isn't looking to trade the 24-year-old. Yet, it may not be possible, especially Cleveland hopes to sign Donovan Mitchell to an extension. Garland averaged 18.0 points and shot 37.1% from behind the arc last season, both down from the 2022-23 campaign. He was also limited to 57 games because of injury. However, Garland figures to be a viable fantasy asset in 2024-25, regardless of where he ends up.

Jayson Tatum Thu Jun 13 2:40pm

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum saw his shooting woes continue in Game 3 of the 2024 NBA Finals against Dallas, but he posted a team-high 31 points in a 106-99 victory. The Celtics star has shot 35.9 percent in the Finals, and he finished Wednesday's contest with an 11-for-26 effort, hitting 4-for-13 from deep. However, Tatum played a complete game, adding playmaking and rebounding to his scoring. He recorded six boards and five dimes with one steal. Tatum has been limited to 21.7 points per game in the Finals, but he's also had 8.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists to help the team grab a 3-0 series lead.