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Published Time: 18.06.2024 - 04:13:36 Modified Time: 18.06.2024 - 04:13:36

And of course, newly crowned champions Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics endured multiple playoff setbacks before finally winning a championship. Luka Doncic

And of course, newly crowned champions Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics endured multiple playoff setbacks before finally winning a championship.

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The playoff setbacks and lessons learned from those losses made them better players and helped them understand how important each possession is.

Now, it’s Dallas star Luka Doncic’s turn to learn and to grow and return a better player with the hope that he can lead the Mavericks to a title someday following Boston’s championship-clinching Game 5 victory Monday.

“They're a great team,” Doncic said after Game 5 as the Celtics celebrated on the court. “They have been together for a long time, and they had to go through everything, so we just got to look at them, see how they play, maturity, and they have some great players. We can learn from that. We got to fight next season.”

Asked his emotions, Doncic said, “Sad we lost.”

The Mavs added Kyrie Irving last season and P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at this season’s trade deadline. They peaked at the right time, beating three 50-win teams in the Western Conference playoffs.

“I would say we've been together for five months,” Doncic said. “I'm proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches, all the behind. Obviously, we didn't win Finals, but we did have a hell of a season and I'm proud of every one of them.”

Mavs general manager Nico Harrison needs to continue reshaping the roster, as Celtics president Brad Stevens did until he found the right combination of players.

Doncic, 25, had his moments both good and bad in the Finals. In the series, Doncic averaged 29.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.6 steals and shot 47.2% from the field. But he also shot 24.4% on 3-pointers, 58.6% on free throws and committed 4.6 turnovers per game.

The Celtics’ offensive and defensive versatility made the game difficult for Doncic on both ends. Boston used several defenders on him, didn’t have to double-team him as much as other teams were forced to do, and they made him expend energy on the defensive side.

“They were physical a lot. They have great defenders,” Doncic said. “They're a great team. That's what they do.”

He absorbed the most criticism after Game 3 when he fouled out with 4:12 remaining in a three-point game, was 11-for-27 from the field, 1-for-7 on 3s, complained often the officiating and was not at his best defensively.

But he rebounded in Game 4 with his best performance and made sure the Mavs avoided elimination. He had 29 points, five rebounds and five assists. His 28 points on 12-for-25 shooting (2-for-9 on 3s) plus 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and seven turnovers were not enough in Game 5.

“There's going to be bumps and bruises along the way. So, for him at the age of 25 to get to the Finals, to be playing his basketball at the level that he's playing is, now it's just being consistent,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.