DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks narrowly defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 117-116 in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinals series. It required a complete team effort as Oklahoma City challenged Dallas throughout the series. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have now reached the Western Conference Finals as a star-studded duo leading a team, something that some critics doubted after Irving was acquired by the Mavs.

ESPN initially gave the trade a “D”, and other skeptics questioned Irving's fit alongside Doncic. The Mavs missed the postseason during the 2022-23 campaign. In 2023-24, though, they are just eight victories away from a championship.

When asked about the previous ESPN grade, all Doncic and Irving could do was laugh after Saturday's game. Doncic then sent a message to the doubters.

“I don’t think we care, we enjoy playing with each other,” Doncic said. “We enjoy playing with this team. We don’t really care what other people have to say.”

Luka led Dallas with 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a triple-double effort. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. both added 22  points. Dereck Lively II had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

For Dallas, it was a tremendous victory to book their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. It also provided Irving and Doncic with the opportunity to silence the doubters.

Mavericks stars Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic chemistry cannot be denied

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrates with Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
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Irving and Doncic enjoy playing with one another. No, it is not just during games. They are often seen smiling and laughing with one another at practice and during shoot-arounds. In fact, there was an example of that on Saturday during the Mavs' shoot-around before Game 6.

Kyrie and Luka addressed playing with one another after the victory.

“Big time man, when he came, nothing but support for everything I did,” Doncic said of Irving. “Everything we did. Just helped me mature a lot. Realize to see the game in a different way. Obviously… it's amazing to play with a guy like him. Just go out there, enjoy it. The leader he's been for us, not just for me but for us, he's been amazing. Always positive attitude.”

“I just think this guy next to me has pushed me to continue to work on my game,” Irving said of Doncic. “Continue to develop as a young leader… Coming into Dallas, I was dealing with a lot, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. They embraced me with open arms. I don't have a perfect journey coming into this environment, I was unsure of how we were going to work out on the court. But off the court, I knew that I would get him to open up. This guy is a big teddy bear… I'll say a teddy bear who likes to compete.”

The Mavericks will be an exciting team to watch moving forward with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving leading the charge.

Who will Dallas play in the Western Conference Finals?

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrates with teammates after the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game six of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
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The Mavericks' opponent for the Western Conference Finals has yet to be decided. The Denver Nuggets are set to host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.

Denver is the No. 2 seed, while Minnesota is the No. 3 seed. The Mavs will remain confident regardless of which team they end up battling, as Dallas has already defeated the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds in the 2024 NBA playoffs.