Luka Doncic owns up to fouling out in Game 3 of Mavericks vs. Celtics: ‘You can’t do that”

The Celtics are on the verge of an NBA title. Boston held off Dallas’ comeback attempt on Wednesday night, taking Game 3 to go up 3-0 on the Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals. 

Despite the 30-point performances out of Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the biggest talk coming out of the contest was Luka Doncic — for all the wrong reasons. 

The Mavericks star did not finish the game, as Doncic picked up his sixth foul midway through the fourth quarter, forcing him to the sidelines. At a time when Dallas needed him most, he let his frustrations out on the court, resulting in him fouling out. 

Doncic initially did not own up to his mistakes, instead making comments about the officiating in his postgame press conference. He felt as though the calls against him were not warranted, especially in the NBA Finals. 

However, after a night’s sleep, the Slovenian had some time to think over the game as a whole, and on Thursday, he admitted that he made mistakes in Game 3 that cost the Mavericks the chance to pick up their first victory in the series.  

Here’s what Doncic had to say about his Game 3 performance and fouling out against the Celtics. 

MORE: Brian Windhorst blasts Luka Doncic’s defense: ‘He’s a hole on the court’

Luka Doncic admits he should not have fouled out in Game 3

Doncic might not have owned up to his mistakes right after the game, but the Mavericks guard gave a much more collected answer on Thursday. During a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Doncic admitted that he shouldn’t have fouled out on Wednesday night. 

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“It was tough, probably wasn’t the smartest thing,” Doncic said. “It was a physical game. To get six fouls, I didn’t expect it … It wasn’t the smartest thing to do, especially in this situation, in the Finals. You have to give everything.”

Doncic said that he spoke to his teammates after the loss and told them that he’ll be better going forward. 

“My bad, you can’t do that — especially in the NBA Finals,” Doncic said he told his teammates. “Regular season is a little bit different, but you can’t really do that in the Finals.”

Getting into foul trouble is not something that Doncic is known for. Game 3 marked the first time in his career that he fouled out during regulation. 

However, his defense, or rather, lack thereof, is another story. Doncic has been the target of the Celtics’ offense through the first three games, with Boston’s stars not shying away from simply driving at Doncic, which has led to success. Doncic currently owns the worst blow-by percentage on drives in NBA Playoff history over the past 10 years, with the Celtics getting by him 67.7 percent of the time. 

When speaking at his Thursday press conference, Doncic said that he knows he has “holes” in his game, but that this is not the time to reflect on what he can improve on for next season. 

NOH: Luka Doncic’s defense among biggest takeaways from Game 3

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“Definitely, a lot of holes … there’s a lot of things to learn,” Doncic said on Thursday. “This is my first NBA Finals, so I’m going to learn from it for sure. But we’re not in the offseason yet.”

If the Mavericks want to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy, then they will have to do something no other team has ever done in NBA playoffs history — come back from down 3-0 in a series. Not only has it never been accomplished in Finals history, but teams are 156-0 when going up 3-0 at any point in the basketball postseason. 

While history may not be on their side, Doncic said he and the team remain confident that it can be done. 

We’ve been through a lot,” Doncic said. “I believe we can do it because of the teammates I have. The whole team, we have great chemistry. We’re going to stay together no matter what.”

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