Luka Doncic, Jason Kidd sound defeated after 3-0 deficit to Dubs

The Golden State Warriors have pushed the Dallas Mavericks to the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals after Sunday’s 109-100 Game 3 win. But by the sound of what the team’s head coach and players are saying, it sure seems like Dallas has already accepted its fate.

Head coach Jason Kidd spoke with reporters after the loss that put his team down 3-0 in the series — no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit in league history — and started waxing poetic about the journey this team has gone through, despite it technically not being officially over yet.

“This is just the beginning of this journey,” Kidd said in his postgame presser. “I know you guys had us winning the championship before the season started. And that’s a joke if you didn’t get it. But this is a lot bigger than just this one game or this one series. This is huge for our franchise because none of you guys had us here. You guys were all supposed to be on vacation.

“So it’s cool to go through this, and we’re going against — you can call them a dynasty… They have three great players who will be all Hall of Famers, and this is a great lesson learned from us. This isn’t ‘t the end. This is just the beginning.”

It’s of course worth noting that he did start with the “it’s just one game” platitude, but he certainly veered off that path with the rest of his words. Monday morning, he wasn’t quite as existential, but more focused on all of the things that went wrong. If you’d like to really read into it, his tone did not sound like somebody confident about his team’s Game 4 chances.

Star Luka Doncic, who starred in the highlight reel of Sunday’s game for all the wrong reasons, also touched on the team’s journey when he said, “I think after this season is done, whenever we are, I’m going to look back and learn a lot of things. This is my first conference finals in [the] NBA. I’m 23, man. I’m still learning a lot.”

It is interesting to see the kayfabe almost entirely dropped from the Mavericks’ side of this series. Even with seemingly insurmountable odds facing them, some players will typically continue to keep up appearances about their team’s chances. Case in point, here’s what Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said about Denver after the team went down 3-0 to the Warriors two rounds ago.

“It’s not over. As long as we put in effort like we did today, we’re going to be fine. They’re a good team. We showed ourselves we can play with them,” Jokic told reporters.

The Mavericks won’t just lay down and die on Tuesday for Game 4, and given Kidd’s track record for strange tactical approaches, maybe this is the team playing possum. But if Dallas plays with the energy that the team is giving off after Sunday’s loss, the Warriors can perhaps start looking at their NBA Finals game plan earlier than expected.

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