Preparing to defend an offensive juggernaut like Luka Doncic is always a serious challenge for any opposing coach. Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle was supposed to catch a break from that duty ahead of their home clash against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
The Mavs superstar was slated to be hit with a suspension after he received his 16th technical foul of the season the previous night against the Charlotte Hornets. Instead, the league rescinded the penalty which allowed Doncic to suit up. Luka ended up leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists in just 28 minutes as they ran away with a 127-104 win.
Instead of lamenting the decision to let Doncic play against his Pacers, Carlisle empathized with the player. After all, he did coach the Mavs wunderkind for three seasons and has “seen it up close” when Doncic does not to get the calls he deserves, via Callie Caplan:
Rick Carlisle on Luka Doncic playing tonight vs. Pacers after NBA rescinded his technical foul suspension: “He gets hit on virtually every play. I’ve seen it close up. … I’m leading the league in technical fouls for coaches, so I empathize with disagreements with officials.”
With the Pacers seemingly content with missing out on the play-in tournament, the stakes were on opposite ends of the spectrum for teams in similar standing within their respective conferences. The Mavs have little margin for error if they want to climb back into the play-in or playoff picture, making the lifted suspension that much more important for them. If there was any other coach other than Jason Kidd who’d back Luka Doncic for his disagreements with the officials, it’s Rick Carlisle. Some Mavs fans even took it a step further.
Rick sticks up for Luka more than Kidd lmao
— jakob (@jakobstone310) March 27, 2023
Rick Carlisle, as the Pacers coach, is sticking up for Luka more than Kidd ever has.
— Jay (@JayLloK) March 27, 2023
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