It’s been big news around the NBA that Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has accumulated 15 technical fouls this season and is one technical away from suspension. During the Mavericks Mother’s Day matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Doncic got ejected from the game.
Although Doncic missed almost the entire second half against Cleveland, he will not face suspension for the Mavericks’ next game. How can this be?
Luka Doncic’s ejection was for a flagrant foul 2 for hitting a Cavaliers player
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, with Dallas leading Cleveland 68-57, Doncic and Cleveland guard Collin Sexton battled for position under the basket. Sexton bumped Doncic from behind, which seemingly surprised and angered the star. He responded by throwing a backhanded punch directly into Sexton’s groin.
After several minutes of consulting replay and deliberating, the referees decided that the foul rose to the level of a flagrant foul 2. In the announcement of the foul, referee David Guthrie cited “the aggressive strike into the groin area” as the reason for the call. This type of foul results in an immediate ejection for the offending player.
TV cameras caught the NBA All-Star following the announcement with a look of shock on his face. According to ESPN, after the game, Doncic explained his surprise. He said he didn’t even know officials were looking at the play for a flagrant foul. He thought they were looking to see if a common foul happened before the shot clock expired.
Doncic did ultimately take responsibility for the foul, telling reporters:
After I saw the video, I knew I hit him, but it wasn’t nothing on purpose. I think that kind of stuff happens a lot in games, but I don’t know. That’s my explanation. It obviously wasn’t on purpose. It was just two guys fighting for a rebound, I guess.
Even with the team’s best player in the locker room for most of the second half, the Mavericks still pulled out the victory. They defeated the Cavaliers 124-97.
What’s the difference between a technical foul and a flagrant foul?
Technical fouls and flagrant fouls are two separate categories of fouls. A flagrant foul is a type of excessive personal foul committed against another player in the course of game action. A technical foul is called when the transgression happens against a referee, the game itself, or involves an altercation with another player outside of game action.
According to the official NBA rulebook, technical fouls involve various offenses, including excessive timeouts, delay-of-game, number of players, conduct, fighting, or basket ring, backboard, or support violations. The conduct piece of this rule is what most often draws technicals in the league, especially with conduct toward officials.
On the other hand, a flagrant foul is a personal foul deemed by referees as more severe than a common foul. A flagrant foul 1, the lesser of the two types, is a foul that is “unnecessary.” A flagrant foul 2, which is what got Doncic ejected, is a foul declared “unnecessary and excessive” by officials.
Even with Doncic’s ejection, he’s still one technical away from suspension
Doncic will still face suspension if he gets one more technical foul in the regular season. If a suspension does come in the last four games of the season, it likely won’t be as dire for the Mavericks as initially thought. Once fighting to stay out of the Play-In Tournament, the Mavericks are slightly more comfortable now in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference.
With just four games left to play, the Mavericks now have a two-game lead over the No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers. This cushion makes the Mavericks’ magic number to stay out of the Play-In Tournament, two. Any combination of Dallas wins, and LA Lakers losses that add up to two will guarantee the Mavericks a full playoff series.
Once the playoffs start though, Doncic needs to be careful. His technical foul count will reset, but each technical during the playoffs will cost him. There are escalating fines that come with each technical in the playoffs and, if Doncic gets seven technicals in the playoffs, he will receive a one-game suspension.