On Wednesday evening, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks gave themselves an opportunity to make history by going down 0-3 to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, a deficit from which no team in league history has ever come back. Doncic put up solid counting stats for the third straight game but was once again a traffic cone on the defensive end of the court, ultimately fouling out of the game with around four minutes remaining and his Mavericks teammates in the midst of an improbable comeback.

The best player on the court for the Mavericks (and maybe for either team) on Wednesday evening was Kyrie Irving, who responded to heavy criticism by having far and away his best game of the series so far, perhaps adding validity to the speculation that the Celtics' hostile crowd was indeed getting to his head.

In fact, recently, NBA insider and sports media personality Stephen A. Smith called out Doncic for getting in Irving's way too often during his epic performance.

“I don't think people are speaking enough about how Luka messed up the game for Kyrie,” said Smith, via First Take on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter. “We're looking at Kyrie having 35. We're looking at him and how prolific he was last night. He had twenty points in the first half. How he hadn't hit any threes in the first two games of the series, going 0-8 from three-point range, then he goes ballistic last night…  when you see him in his bag the way that he was, you get the ball in his hands. On too many occasions last night, Kyrie Irving would get to his spots or get into the lane, draw a foul… get him the damn ball. Luka would literally take the ball, he's slowing the pace, he's dribbling excessively, and then he's taking some contested shot that didn't end up going his way last night. That's why he only had 27 points on 27 shots. Those are times that you give the ball to Kyrie.”

Indeed, Irving was “in his bag” on Wednesday, hitting tough shot after tough shot over the Celtics' all-defensive backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, but it didn't end up being enough in the end.

Can the Mavericks salvage one win?

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) high fives guard Luka Doncic (77) after a play against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in game two of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks still have yet to have a hot shooting night from beyond the arc, although they were much better in that facet on Wednesday evening, which unfortunately for them coincided with the Celtics also having their best perimeter efficiency night of the series as well.

With the shooting variance and depth of talent in the NBA today, it's very difficult to beat the same team four times in a row, no matter who it is. It's certainly possible that the Mavericks come out on Friday, put together their best performance of the series so far, and avoid the embarrassing fate that would be getting swept out of the Finals.

However, at this point, it's very tough to envision this one going past Game 5.