NBA

Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr makes ‘tough’ admission about sixth man role

Dallas Mavericks star Tim Hardaway Jr admits it was “tough” being the sixth man at the start of the season.

The 27-year-old shooting guard was not named in the starting five until the Mavericks’ 14th game of the NBA campaign when they recorded a 48-point win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Western Conference franchise’s spate of injury problems allowed Hardaway Jr a way in the tip-off and he has not looked back.

When asked if he was ready to embrace the sixth-man role at the start of the season, he said: “I was doing it. Like I said, I played both in Atlanta. I started, came off the bench, didn’t matter, I was kind of that spark.

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“I just had to make sure I knew how to get myself involved and pick and choose my spots coming off the bench.

“I mean, it was tough. I’m not going to lie. It was tough. I wasn’t getting the looks I was hoping to get and I was battling through stuff, just trying to force a look here and there. And I knew that wasn’t my game.

“So the opportunity presented itself and I just tried to make the most of it. Here we are today.”

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The Mavericks, spearheaded by MVP candidate and All-Star Luka Doncic, have managed to keep up their postseason hopes, despite their injury problems. They are fifth in the Western Conference standings with a 28-16 record.

When asked how the team has responded to the mounting fitness issues, Hardaway Jr said: “Coach always says, ‘Next Man up.’ It’s a team sport, so within that, as a team, when your number is called, you’ve got to go out there and produce and perform for your team and do all the little things that you’re called upon to do.

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“Every guy on this team, I’m happy to say, has done that when their number has been called.”

NBA Saturdays presented by NBA2K20 on Sky Sports – part of a record 48 Primetime games live on Sky Sports starting from 7.00pm every weekend. This week on 25 January the Utah Jazz host the Dallas Mavericks on Sky Sports Arena from 10pm.

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