Luka Doncic and the Mavericks are in the thick of the playoff race and are doing everything they can to avoid being a part of the NBA’s play-in tournament. They currently are hanging on to the No. 5 seed but are just a game ahead of the Lakers and Trail Blazers. Any sort of stumble down the stretch, and Dallas could be fighting for their playoff lives.
Doncic knows it. That’s why the Mavericks star is focused on one thing for the final part of the season: He needs to avoid picking up another technical foul.
On the season, Doncic has racked up 16 technicals, tied for the league lead with 76ers center Dwight Howard. Normally, players are suspended after their 16th technical foul, but Doncic had one in-game call against him rescinded by the league office. He had picked that one up by yelling, “And-1!” during a game against the New York Knicks in early April.
Nonetheless, Doncic is one technical away from an automatic one-game suspension. He’s living on the edge, and Doncic missing one game could be critical during a tight playoff race. As such, Doncic is doing everything he can to stay cool and level-headed, as he detailed following Dallas’ win over the Nets.
“I realize it,” Doncic said, per ESPN’s Tim McMahon. “It’s something that I’m not supposed to do. [It’s difficult] with all the emotions in games, but obviously I’ve got to stop. It’s just hard for me on the court with all the emotions, but I realize it and I’ve got to work on this. It’s tough to do it, but I’ve got to work on it and be way better than this.”
Doncic’s problems with complaining have picked up steam since the All-Star break, as he has posted 10 technical fouls in 28 games since that span. The good news for him is that the league’s technical foul count will reset beginning in the postseason, at which point Doncic wouldn’t be suspended for a game until picking up seven technical fouls. So, Doncic has to make it just six games without be whistled for a tech in order to avoid missing time.
The Mavericks desperately need him to do that. They are just 2-4 without him this season and are averaging a meager 102.5 points per game in those six contests. That’s nearly 10 points per game lower than their season-long scoring average of 112.1.
As impactful as Doncic’s energy and emotion are on the Mavericks, they need him to rein it in just a bit, at least during the final weeks of the season.
Because at the end of the day, Doncic can only an impact for Dallas when he’s on the court.