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Kyrie Irving told Luka Doncic ‘I got to play better for him… it’s my fault’

The Dallas Mavericks are not down 0-2 in the NBA Finals because of Kyrie Irving.

However, any hopes the Mavericks have of a comeback against the Celtics start with Irving playing a lot more like the player who torched the Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals than the one we have seen in the last two games.

Irving isn't ducking his Finals struggles — through two games he is averaging 14 points a night on 35.1% shooting, including 0-of-8 from 3, and while he has eight assists he also has five turnovers. The more mature Irving we have seen during these Finals started his turnaround by owning up to Luka Doncic.

"It started with me just telling my hermano… it started with me reaching out, just letting him know it's my fault, taking accountability for not playing particularly well," Irving said.

Acceptance might be the first step, but what does Irving need to do on the court to get better attacking angles, find some bucks and make the right reads on when to kick out?

"I can be a lot more fundamentally sound, technical on my shots, not get into the paint often where it's three or four guys around me, I'm not making a pass," Irving said. "They're sending specific strategies against me to make it difficult.”

The Celtics are also sending an elite defender at Irving in Jrue Holiday.

"It's not just one person, it's everybody," Holiday said of how the Celtics are slowing Irving. "We just try to defend him, we try to show him bodies, multiple people, and just try to make it difficult.”

Jason Kidd and the Mavericks know they need to get Irving going (and Kristaps Porzingis possibly not being in the paint altering shots would help). Celtics coach Joe Mazzula knows it too and expects a far more aggressive Irving in Game 3.

"I think he's missed some easy shots," Mazzulla said. "I expect him obviously to be even more aggressive and to fight to get those shots.

"The most important thing is just being detailed in individual defense. It's not about shutting him down. It's about just making it difficult for him because of his ability to impact plays. So we just have to fight for that. He's gotten some good looks. I think we have to guard him better. He's definitely going to be more aggressive.”

If Dallas is going to make this a series, it starts with that more aggressive Irving. That's not all they need, but it's where the conversations starts.