Although the Mavs are down 3 at halftime, Mavs fans can be optimistic about the game. It seems Luka Dončić is good to go, and his neck injury is getting better. If there's one thing Mavs fans have to be worried about, it's the fact Luka is again spending a lot of time annoyed at the refs.
The refs are allowing a lot of contact. Some of it is playoffs basketball, and some of it is because Luka still doesn't get the protection other superstars do from the referees. But some of it is the refs' way of getting back at Luka for all the complaining that he's been doing throughout the season.
The conversation about Luka as a whiner reached boiling point when Zach Lowe didn't hold back on his podcast and called Luka out. It didn't take long for Mavs owner Mark Cuban to take the gloves off and respond.
“I’ll tell you exactly what I think. F*UCK YOU ZACH LOWE, YOU DON’T KNOW SH*T. I know Luka, and he’s not a big whiner.”
Mark Cuban, VICE
On several occasions during this season - during postgame interviews and appearances on shows like Stephen A's World - Luka owned up to his whining and said he would do better. “I gotta stop this, I know it’s not right. But I think more than whining, it’s just wanting to win.” As much as he's committed to reducing his chatter with the refs, we still haven't seen it on the court.
A few times in the first half, we've seen nervous reactions from Luka, including a little scuffle with Reggie Jackson at half cour after Jackson made a professional foul to stop a fast break. As Luka seemed to be losing control, his father Saša, working as a commentator for the game, talked about his son's temper on the court.
"We've heard a lot about it, but I see it differently. Luka cares about the game, and for some players, this is a way to get extra motivated. His passion and emotions for the game make him the player he is. We've seen Luka take over big games as the youngest kid on the court - in Euroleague and NBA. He's very mature and has a high basketball IQ. His passion is a part of that."
Saša Dončić, Game 6 broadcast
Saša pointed out that Rick Carlisle said he can't discipline Luka about his conversations with the refs, given the fact Carlisle did the same in his playing days. We know the leaders and the best players set the culture of a team. It seems the Dončić - Carlisle Mavericks are going to share their thoughts with the refs a lot.
I just hope they don't reach the Chris Paul - Doc Rivers Clippers in that department. Join our exclusive chat on Game 6 and invite your friends to discuss.