Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Mavs buoyed by their best playoffs in a decade

DALLAS ( Associated Press) — Luka Doncic drew laughs from reporters by saying he will take about a week off after Dallas’ loss to Golden State in the Western Conference finals, ending the longest season in the career of the young star.

Instead, the question Doncic will be asked about how much he weighs in about four months when he opens training camp won’t be a joke.

The 23-year-old’s fitness and how the squad around him fits will be the hottest topics of the offseason ahead of next season. In this time, the Mavericks will try to continue improving.

For now, they managed to get past the first round of the playoffs and made it all the way to the conference finals. They marked their longest trip to the postseason since winning their only NBA championship 11 years ago.

“I basically haven’t stopped playing basketball since the start of the NBA season,” Doncic said after the 120-110 loss to the Warriors in Game 5. “I’m going to take probably a week off from basketball and then I’m going to go back to it. Being healthy is the most important thing in basketball. If you’re not healthy, you’re not going to play.”

Or in his case, if you’re not fit, you’re not going to play well.

Doncic was criticized earlier in the season for that reason, and he acknowledged it had been an issue as he struggled with the high standards and the Mavericks started slow under first-year coach Jason Kidd, the point guard for the champion team. Dallas.

Doncic didn’t get much respite after Dallas’ first-round exit last season as the season started late. The star led Slovenia through the Olympic tournament in Tokyo and through to the semifinals, before suffering two defeats that left him out of the medals.

A COVID-19 absence during the season was extended to give Doncic time to work on his conditioning and recover from an ankle injury. He returned as Dallas began its resurgence from a 16-18 record to finishing as the fourth-best team in the West with a 52-30 record.

Kidd said he will visit Doncic over the summer “on his court” and hinted that conditioning will be part of the discussion.

“I think the next step is to understand how long the season is if you want to win a championship. And I think that’s a good start for them,” Kidd said.

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