Doc Rivers Sounds Off on Luka Doncic & Kyrie Irving Following Sixers’ Historic Loss

Doc Rivers Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Doc Rivers head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers could very well have used Matisse Thybulle‘s perimeter defense against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. A game that looked like an offensive explosion early on failed to disappoint, though Sixers fans had every reason to be disappointed with the end result.

Ultimately, the Mavericks’ firepower was simply too much for the Sixers. Dallas opened up a 25-point lead over Philadelphia in the third quarter, though the Sixers responded with a 17-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to storm back. But it was too little, too late; the Mavericks won 133-126.

A key reason for the Mavericks’ excellent win: superstars Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. The pair combined for 81 points on the night, only the third time this season that a duo has managed that feat, and the 22nd time in NBA history. The duo also became the first in Mavericks history to accomplish that feat.

After the game, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called out the two stars for their epic performances.

“Luka and Kyrie are great,” Rivers said. “The one thing you got to say, they did make tough shots, but I didn’t like the fact that they had a lot of those one-on-ones. I don’t want either one of those guys playing that much one-on-one, so give them credit.”

Unfortunately for Rivers, even players not-named Doncic and Irving found their shooting stroke. As a team, the Mavs went 25-of-48 from three, an outrageous 52% make rate.

“Everybody they passed it to made it, you have nights like that, and they had a night like that tonight, but I also thought all their shots was in great rhythm,” Rivers finished.

James Harden Calls Out ‘Elite’ Doncic and Irving

Rivers wasn’t the only one to praise Doncic and Irving. The duo earned rave reviews from one of their All-Star peers in Sixers star James Harden.

“Two elite scorers, two elite playmakers, once they get it going, it’s difficult to slow them down,” James Harden explained. “It felt like their entire team made a good shot. They shot over 50% from three, they shot a lot of threes and made most of them. When a team gets that hot, it’s difficult to win. We gave ourself a chance, but they literally made everything.”

The Sixers, for their part, were able to hang with the high-octane offense from Dallas for much of the game. The team only trailed by four at the half, but the Sixers were outscored by 15 points in the third quarter.

The slow third quarters have plagued Philadelphia for much of the season, especially against higher-caliber opponents. Against the Celtics last week, the Sixers experienced an eight-point deficit in the third frame. When the Cavaliers came to town a week earlier, the Sixers slumped out of halftime, losing the quarter by the same margin.

Maxey the Lone Bright Spot for Sixers

The Sixers’ lone bright spot in the Mavs’ loss was Tyrese Maxey, who has quietly put together a string of solid performances since the All-Star Break.

Maxey, who started for the Sixers Thursday night, recorded 29 points, including a barrage of shots right out of the gate in the fourth quarter that pulled the Sixers within striking distance. In fact, though the Sixers were outshot for most of the night, the Sixers won Maxey’s minutes by three points.

Over his last ten games, Maxey is up to 19.0 points per game on 40.7% from three. His shot is finally falling the way it did earlier in the season before an injury forced him out for much of November and December.

The Sixers’ offense is far more electric with Maxey as the third offensive option. So long as he continues playing with confidence and aggression, the former Kentucky Wildcat should be full steam ahead for the postseason.

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