Luka Doncic questionable for Game 3 vs. Jazz

Published April 22, 2022, 2:30 AMNBA.com News Services

The Mavericks star point guard has missed the first 2 games of Dallas' first-round series against Utah while recovering from a left calf strain.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has yet to play in the team’s first-round series against the Utah Jazz, but he may be available for Game 3 on Friday. With the series tied 1-1 and heading to Salt Lake City, the team upgraded Doncic to questionable for Game 3 as he recovers from a left calf strain.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told reporters Thursday that a decision on Doncic playing will likely come around “game time” and after he has gone through his pregame warmups and conditioning.

Doncic spoke with reporters Wednesday, marking his first comments since he suffered the injury in Dallas’ regular season finale on April 10 vs. San Antonio. Doncic got up some shots as practice ended and appeared to be moving well, per Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning-News.

Doncic said he was “feeling good” and can see improvement in himself from when he first suffered the injury. However, he also said he will not play if there’s a risk of aggravating the injury.

“Today and yesterday I did a little bit. We shouldn’t rush anything, but step by step, I think I’m improving a lot, and I’m getting better,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be 100 percent. I think that’s tough right now. But if I’m ready and there’s no risk of (further) injury, I’ll be out there. I’m doing a lot of treatment, man. I’m tired of just laying down and doing treatment.”

Kidd sounded confident on Wednesday that Doncic is progressing and could be available to play soon.

“He’s doing the work that the medical staff has asked him to do, and there hasn’t been any setback,” Kidd said. “He feels great, so I think he just continues to come in with that good attitude that at some point, he’ll get that green light to play.”

Fueled by Jalen Brunson’s career-high 41 points, the Mavericks overcame Doncic’s absence as they drilled a team-record 22 3-pointers to even the series at 1-1 with a 110-104 victory in Game 2. Overall, the Mavs are 9-10 this season without Doncic.

“I just miss basketball,” Doncic said. “I know it’s only been two games, but I miss it so much.”

When Game 3 tips off, it will be 11 days since Doncic strained his left calf when he was less than three minutes from going to the bench for good in what turned out to be a meaningless regular-season finale against San Antonio.

That’s roughly the recovery time for the mildest calf strain, known as grade one. Beyond that, the optimistic outlook is a month — about the amount of time Kevin Durant was sidelined when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in his first game back with Golden State in 2019.

This season, Doncic averaged 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists as he emerged as a Kia MVP candidate and led Dallas to its first 50-win season since 2014-15.

“We need Luka back. We want him back ASAP,” said Maxi Kleber after Game 2. “But obviously we want him back healthy so he stays healthy and helps us because we know he’s our best player.”

As Game 3 approaches, the Mavs are trying to reverse their history in Utah, where they are 24-73 all-time.

“You buy time for Luka to come back. It’s not rocket science,” said guard Spencer Dinwiddie, a trade-deadline acquisition who also gets thrown into a leadership role when Doncic is out. “We want to have him back and quickly and as healthy as possible. But we’re also focused on winning the series regardless.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.