uka Doncic hopes for a “much better” pairing with Kyrie Irving this season,

Injuries and other issues kept Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic from playing a combined 18 games in 2022-23.

   Schuyler Dixon | Associated Press Luka Doncic earned first-team NBA honors last season in Dallas. DALLAS (AP) – Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s first preseason includes long flights overseas and a busy schedule with fewer games than usual for the Dallas Mavericks.

   They take over a rushed effort to land a pair of All-Stars last season after a blockbuster that fizzled when the Mavericks fell late and missed the playoffs a year after reaching the Western Conference Finals.

   “The last year has been so busy,” Irving said. “We had so much pressure to win now, to win big. “It’s Luka and Kyrie. Why can’t you win games?” So we answered a lot of questions that I honestly don’t think we were ready for.

   They weren’t ready, Irving supposed, because they weren’t healthy. Both battled injuries, and in the first 18 games of the series’ first All-Star Game, Doncic and Irving shared the court just nine times. Luka Doncic’s all-around excellence on the court has earned him a spot on the NBA First Team for the 2022-2023 season. Irving sat out the final two games of the season when the Mavericks publicly panicked — and were later fined $750,000 — because they didn’t think they’d make the playoffs even with a win.

   Dallas also tried to secure the 2019 trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the New York Knicks and succeeded. The Mavs received two first-round picks on draft night. Irving re-signed with Dallas last offseason with a $120 million, three-year player option, so he and Doncic have at least two seasons to see if the tandem works. – He came last year in the middle of the season.

   We didn’t have much time. We went straight to the games, Doncic said. “Building chemistry takes time, especially on the field. We have a full training camp and also a preseason. I think it will be much better.”

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