Doris Burke called out Mavericks star Luka Dončić following a critical sequence in the first quarter of Game 3 on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić dribbles against Boston Celtics forward Al Horford in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While the Dallas Mavericks largely dominated the first quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, the Boston Celtics narrowed the deficit to one by the end of the quarter. Doris Burke, calling the game for ESPN on ABC, criticized Dallas star Luka Dončić for his role in a critical late sequence.

Dallas led 31-25 with under a minute left in the quarter. The Mavericks seemed to get a favorable matchup when Dončić found himself 1-on-1 against Boston big man Al Horford at the three-point line. While Dončić was able to shake Horford and got a clean look at a stepback 3, it did not go in.

There was contact between Horford and Dončić after the shot, but no foul was called. Dončić remained on the ground briefly, disputing the lack of a foul. Meanwhile, the Celtics, who rebounded the missed three-pointer, quickly moved down the court. Jayson Tatum drove to the top of the key, then passed the ball back to a trailing Sam Hauser, who buried the open three-pointer, right as Dončić was finally getting back on defense.

Burke immediately called Dončić out for failing to get back on time.

“A moment where Luka takes a minute to bark at the officials, doesn’t sprint in transition, and you’re playing 5-0n-4,” Burke said.

While it was not a long argument from Dončić, it’s hard to dispute Burke’s point. Dončić was no more than one, maybe two steps away from being completely back on defense and possibly preventing the three-pointer, or at least making Boston work harder for it.

Game 3 is a complete must-win for Dallas. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in any NBA playoff series. For a team with virtually no margin for error, failing to get back and allowing an easy three points can definitely be costly.

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