Dereck Lively II played in his first career playoff game on Sunday, which was just over a week after his mother, Kathy Drysdale, passed away following a battle with cancer. The Dallas Mavericks lost Game 1 of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, but Lively told reporters on Monday that “this is the only place where I can come to smile” right now. The Mavericks have Lively's back, and Lively appreciates being around the team during this difficult time.

“There's really been a lot going on in my life. You know, there's been a lot of chaos, a lot of things going on,” Lively said Monday, via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “This is the only place where I can come to smile… People think that there's a lot of eyes on this, there's always a lot of eyes on this, there's always a lot of pressure on us. But, you know, we're playing basketball. So when it comes down to things, we're playing a game that I've loved since I was a kid.”

Dereck Lively II inspired by Kathy Drysdale

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) walks off the court after the Mavericks lose to the Sacramento Kings at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks have been there for Lively throughout this season. The rookie performed well while on the floor. Off the floor, he knew what his mom was dealing with, though.

Focusing on basketball was likely difficult. Yet, he still gave everything he had to the team.

Lively also opened up on losing his mother. He previously shared his thoughts in an Instagram post, but Lively spoke with the media about losing Drysdale on Monday.

“Man it's hard,” Lively said, via Townsend. “It's hard being able to just try to, not move on, but not act like nothing happened. But you got to be able to keep it moving. That's kind of what my mom would want me to do. That's kind of what she was doing throughout the whole time… My mom was on her deathbed and she shrugged her shoulders, acting like nothing was happening. She's like, ‘I'm fine'… So being able to just see that attitude makes me just realize, alright, I got to continue.

“She passed the torch on to me and I got to carry it now.”

Lively set to make impact in Mavericks-Clippers playoff series

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at United Center.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Lively is ready to help the Mavs against the Clippers. Dallas struggled in their 109-97 defeat on Sunday, but they should be able to bounce back in Game 2.

The Mavericks have relied on their centers throughout the 2023-24 campaign. Lively emerged as a reliable option early in the season. Dallas then acquired Daniel Gafford ahead of the trade deadline to give the team two quality centers on the roster.

The Mavs need to be better on offense, and finding a way to contain the Clippers from beyond the arc will be important as well. Lively and Gafford will play pivotal roles as they look to protect the rim, make an impact in the rebounding department, and finish on lobs from Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic.

For Dereck Lively II specifically, his mother is his inspiration. We will all be rooting for Lively throughout the NBA playoffs.