When a player from the Dallas Mavericks scores 44, 33, and 42 points in consecutive games, one wouldn’t fault you for thinking it was Luka Doncic. Doncic has been having what is arguably his best season thus far, however, he has missed the last three Mavs games dealing with a sprained right ankle.  

Fortunately for Dallas, Kyrie Irving has been playing his best basketball in recent memory. 

Irving’s latest gem was a masterclass in layups and midrange shots, all of which were needed to help the Mavericks outlast the New Orleans Pelicans in a 125-120 victory. The Mavs saw their 16-point lead at the end of the first quarter (thanks in part to Irving’s exploits) disappear at halftime. By the time the fourth quarter began, Dallas was staring at a seven-point deficit. In the end, Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. (41 points on nine 3-pointers) took over in the final quarter. 

Since returning from a 12-game absence due to a right heel contusion, Irving has had per game averages of 31.8 points (on 49.5/47.0/87.2 shooting splints), 7.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.8 steals, well above his overall averages for this season. Irving certainly hasn’t been alone during this brief run, but this eight-game stretch has been a solid one and it’s a reminder that basketball is better when Irving is working his magic on the court. 

While Irving has spoken on the conflict between Hamas and Israel, he has largely stayed away from making controversial statements that could overshadow his play. And it may be for the better for the eight-time NBA All-Star and the Mavericks. 


It’s not so much a case of shut-up-and-dribble given that some of his statements have either been debunked or labeled as anti-semitisim. Rather, it’s devoting more time and energy towards winning basketball games, which the Mavs have done thus far this season. Besides, Irving’s actions can speak louder than his words.

At 24-17, Dallas remains within striking distance of the defending champion Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Sacramento Kings for a favorable seed in the postseason. It’s also the halfway point of the regular season (games wise) and so, Irving has the Mavericks in a good position with Doncic’s return looming. 

As the games pile up, though, Irving’s health is a crucial area to monitor. The 31-year old played 41 minutes against the Pelicans and has played at least 39 minutes in the last five games. Irving has suffered various injuries and the heavy workload raises the risk of him adding to that long list. Doncic’s pending return should help ease that, but as it stands, it’s great to see Irving’s health hold up. 

Luka Doncic may be sidelined with a sprained right ankle, but Kyrie Irving has been valiantly holding down the fort in his absence. Health be willing, this could be the start of an outstanding run for Irving, one that could lead to a long postseason run once Doncic returns.