We’ve seen it with everyone from Stephen Curry in recent years through Shaquille O’Neal in the 1990s, when teams struggle to defend an elite player they get physical with him.
Luka Doncic is getting that treatment now in Dallas, and it’s ticking off Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
“It’s been going on the entire season,” Carlisle said Saturday before Dallas’ loss (and a Doncic triple-double), via the Associated Press. “Teams are taking liberties on him. It’s not good. But he’s handling it very well…
“He’s a great player, so people are going to go after him. It doesn’t mean that a lot of this stuff is right or in the spirit of what the game should look like. He’s got scratches all over his arms all the time, stuff like that. Not good.”
This is what smart coaches do, make the issue public and try to get in the head of officials and have them looking for it. Carlisle will reinforce that with referees during the game.
Doncic agreed with his coach, but he’s not going to complain about it.
“It’s true. I’m not going to lie,” Doncic said. “But it’s just basketball. It’s a physical game. I’ve just got to keep going.”
Doncic is a physical player himself, a strong 6’8″ guard who will back down smaller defenders when they switch onto him. He’s physically stronger than defenders often expect and that lets him get where he wants to get on the court. He gives plenty back.
Carlisle wants him to get a little less.