Mavs’ Kyrie Irving – Need to scale back pressure I put on myself

Tim McMahonESPN staff writer3 minute reading

DALLAS — Once again, the Mavericks couldn’t finish with their pair of All-Stars on the floor together.

On this occasion, Kyrie Irving missed a contested 3-pointer in a 124-122 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. It marked the fourth time in five games that Irving has played with Luka Doncic and the Mavs lost, with all defeats by a one-possession margin — far from the boost Dallas was hoping for when it made the blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Irving.

“I appreciate the coaching staff and my teammates trusting me with that shot and just the comfort they gave me afterward,” Irving said after the loss, which dropped Dallas to seventh in the Western Conference standings. “Really want to win here, really put a lot of pressure on myself at times. I think I have to scale it down a little bit, just because the second half of the season, just feel like we have to be good every single possession and usually these happen the learning curves or learning moments in the preseason, and it’s happening now.

“So it definitely puts a sharp eye on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Easy to criticize, but for us, I just have to focus on being the best I can be and showing up for not only Luka, but for my teammates. “

The loss put a damper on Doncic’s 24th birthday, but he took no issue with the play late in the game, when from the corner he saw Irving isolated against Pacers guard TJ McConnell.

“It was a good shot,” said Doncic, who had 39 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the loss. “That’s Kyrie. He can make a lot of those shots and we trust him.”

Irving is averaging 24.7 points and 6.9 assists in seven games with the Mavs, including a pair of wins Doncic missed while recovering from a heel injury immediately following the deal. But Irving hasn’t shot well in Dallas’ last two games, going 15 of 40 from the floor in home losses to the Los Angeles Lakers (when the Mavs blew a 27-point lead) and Pacers.

Irving acknowledged he feels pressure to perform after being involved in a high-profile trade and joining the Mavs as they battle for playoff seeding in the second half of the season.

“The last two games, I just haven’t played with the flow of my game and just complementing others and just doing the little things to win,” said Irving, who had 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting and nine assists Tuesday night. “I mean, it’s natural. It comes with it. And also, as a human being, I just naturally want to fit in with everybody and not step on anybody’s toes.

“But the magnitude of the moments sometimes warrant special people to go above and beyond and do the extra things. I’m in that place now, but I think I just need to scale back and let the game come to me and flow into it, because when we play so tensely, I can feel the intensity around me. I think I just have to settle in and stay balanced.”

Irving is used to playing alongside another superstar, something Doncic is experiencing for the first time in the NBA. Irving won a title as LeBron James’ sidekick with the Cleveland Cavaliers and joined the Nets as a free agent package deal with Kevin Durant.

The Mavs hoped pairing Irving with Doncic would give them a chance to compete for a championship, but Irving doesn’t think he’s up to the deal yet while playing with the NBA’s scoring leader.

“That’s the big business, baby,” Irving said. “That’s the big business. As much pressure as I put on myself, I have goals that I’d like to achieve, but all of those get pushed to the side because I know I’ve got 15 other guys on this team that rely on me for to do things that they’ve either seen me do or they expect me to do as one of the best players in the league. So when I’m sitting with Luka, I just have to show up to the party.

“I’ve been in situations in this league. Some have been failures, some have been successes, but over the last few years I’ve made it a goal for me to just get stronger mentally, especially to deal with the difficulties of this mentally. , physically, emotionally. It’s coming. It’s coming.”

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