According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Dallas Mavericks star point guard Luka Doncic has been diagnosed with a left calf strain after undergoing an MRI on Monday afternoon. Doncic’s status for Game 1 of the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Saturday is undetermined because Dallas has not set a return date.
Doncic suffered the injury in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Spurs in San Antonio. In the third quarter, with the Mavericks leading by 18 points, Doncic landed awkwardly after raising for a pass and began grimacing in pain as he grasped his left calf.
The following is how the damage occurred:
It is not yet clear whether Doncic will miss any of the playoffs as a result of his injury, but it is an important setback for a Mavericks club that has won home-court advantage in the postseason for the first time since 2011. If Doncic isn’t 100 percent healthy, not only would it limit Dallas’ chances of winning the series, but there is also the possibility that his current injury may deteriorate. Given how crucial Doncic is to everything the Mavericks do on offense, it stands to reason that the Mavericks will want to be extra cautious with this ailment, which has the potential to come back at any time.
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 four 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.