Dallas Mavericks star point guard Luka Doncic has been diagnosed with a left calf strain after undergoing an MRI on Monday afternoon, the Mavericks announced Tuesday. Doncic’s status for Game 1 of the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Saturday is still unknown as Dallas hasn’t set a timetable for his return, but things don’t seem to be trending in the right direction.
People around the Mavericks organization are skeptical that Doncic will be ready to play in Saturday’s series opener against the Jazz — set to tip off at noon local time — according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported that the injury was “more than just a mild calf strain.”
“The Mavericks are very much preparing for the possibility of not only maybe not having [Doncic] in Game 1, but maybe even Game 2 on Monday. If this was the regular season, you wouldn’t even be talking about him possibly playing this weekend,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown. “I think you can expect him to go down to the wire Friday, Saturday on this. But a great deal of skepticism, concern about how soon he will be available in this playoff series against Utah.”
Doncic sustained the injury in Dallas’ regular-season finale against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. With the Mavericks up by 18 points in the third quarter, Doncic landed awkwardly after elevating for a pass and immediately began grimacing in pain as he grabbed at his left calf.
Here’s how the injury occurred:
Though Doncic hasn’t officially been ruled out for any part of the playoffs, this injury is a significant blow to a Mavericks team that captured home-court advantage in the postseason for the first time since 2011. If Doncic isn’t 100 percent healthy, not only will it hinder Dallas in the series, but there is always the chance of worsening the current injury. Given how essential Doncic is to everything the Mavericks do on offense, it only makes sense that the Mavs will want to be extra cautious with this fickle injury.
If Doncic is ruled out for Game 1, Dallas will turn to Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson to try and fill the All-NBA guard’s shoes. While that’s a tall order, Dinwiddie and Brunson have been integral to Dallas’ success this season.
Dinwiddie has been one of the most impactful players who was traded at the deadline, as he’s shown glimpses of his pre-ACL tear self in Dallas. He went from averaging just 12.6 points on 37 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep with the Washington Wizards this season, to putting up 15.8 points on a far better 49.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range with the Mavs. Dinwiddie’s been a revelation for the Mavericks off the bench, as he’s given Dallas another creator alongside Doncic who can truly create for himself and others.
Brunson has also been a bright spot for the Mavericks this year. The third-year guard is averaging career-highs in points (16.3), assists (4.8) and for the second season is shooting over 50 percent from the field. If Dallas is going to be without Doncic for any portion of this series, Brunson and Dinwiddie will become its most important players on this team against the Jazz.
There are roughly three days between now and when the Mavericks tip-off at 1 p.m. ET against Utah on Saturday. During that time both the Mavericks and the Jazz, as well as the rest of the NBA world, will be holding their breath to see if Doncic will be healthy enough to suit up for Game 1.