The Dallas Mavericks, 90 minutes before today's Game 4 tips off inside the Orlando bubble, say Luka Doncic will try to play through his ankle problem in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
"We hope to have a decision in the next 30 or 40 minutes,'' coach Rick Carlisle said in his 1 p.m. CT presser, just ahead of the 2:30 p.m. start time.
But then ... Luka warming up ...
And then, at 1:30 CT, the official word from the Mavs: He'll be "available'' to play. And knowing Doncic, that means he's playing.
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Luka's ankle is sprained - "It's not too bad,'' Doncic said after Friday's Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers - and the MRI indicates nothing worse than that. Still, Carlisle on Saturday called this "a game-time decision,'' adding that while the "questionable'' Doncic often plays through pain, "We don't want him to play injured.''
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Echoing that, from teammate Maxi Kleber: "He's our franchise player, for a long time, so we don't want to take any unnecessary risks.''
Doncic (averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists on the year and 28/8.3/8.7 in the series) did not doing anything in the Saturday workout beyond treatment, and when the MRI arrived, ESPN reported that the result showed "nothing alarming.''
It's easy to envision Doncic attempting to go here, as he did in trying to come back on Friday after sustaining the injury. At that time, he was essentially a decoy and a distributor. But his movement in those few minutes was severely limited, the pain was too great, and the score was out of hand.
"We're playing for our playoffs lives,'' Carlisle said. And while that comment probably wasn't meant to inspire the 21-year-old league MVP candidate Doncic - he's exhibited no need for toughness pep talks - is very well may reflect the way Luka himself is thinking about today.