Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic Continues 'Battling' Through Injuries During Playoff Run

The Dallas Mavericks hold a 2-1 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder despite Luka Doncic dealing with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness.
May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring
May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS — Luka Doncic, despite visibly struggling with injuries, spearheaded the Dallas Mavericks to a gritty 105-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 on Saturday, giving his team a crucial 2-1 series lead.

Doncic told reporters "everything" hurts after the game as he continues to battle through a lingering right knee sprain since the first round of the playoffs, gutted out 22 points and 15 rebounds, showcasing his unwavering determination to lead his team to victory. He entered the game on the injury report listed as questionable due to his knee sprain but also with left ankle soreness and faces the same circumstances entering Monday's Game 4.

"I'm battling out there, man," Doncic said. "I'm glad we got the win. I'm just trying to battle."

May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring
May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Doncic's physical limitations were evident throughout the game. In the final minute, he winced in pain after falling hard on his tailbone and tweaking his knee.

“On the last play, when I split two defenders, obviously nobody touched me,” Doncic said sarcastically. “I hurt my knee again, but I’m just trying to battle out there, man. We got a win. That’s all that matters.”

Fortunately, Doncic's teammates rallied around him, delivering crucial contributions to secure the win. Kyrie Irving added 22 points and seven assists, while P.J. Washington continued his impressive display of making the Thunder pay with 27 points and six rebounds. Dereck Lively II also played a vital role, making 8-12 free throws, including going 4-4 in down the stretch with Oklahoma City turning to a "Hack-a-Lively" approach given his 52.6% free throw percentage (including playoffs).

The Mavericks' physical play and rebounding advantage proved decisive, allowing them to overcome Doncic's limited mobility. However, regardless of how the game is being officiated, the team is prepared to adapt to a finesse approach as well.

“I think since March, we’ve enjoyed the physical play,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “Oklahoma City’s a really good team and they were physical, and if it’s going to be physical, we’re up for it. Maybe in the past, we weren’t, but this is a different team. This team is built to be physical and if we have to pivot and be finesse, then we can do that too.”

Doncic's injuries have been a growing concern, but his unwavering commitment to playing through pain has inspired his teammates.

“Someone’s got to pick him up,” Kidd said of Doncic. “And it’s not just Kai. It’s the other guys Timmy has been great for us. Josh was big for us off the bench. That’s what makes the beauty of sport, that it’s a team. This is not golf, where we just have a player and caddie.

“This is a group that believes that if someone is hurting, they’re going to pick him up," Kidd explained. "Luka hurting, he’s doing everything to put the team in a position to win.”

Undeterred by his physical struggles, Doncic remains resolute in his pursuit of guiding the Mavericks to a triumphant Game 4 and series victory, with his sights set on a return to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons.

"We haven't achieved anything," Doncic said. "We've got to stay hungry."

As the series shifts to Game 4 on Monday, the Mavericks will rely on their collective strength to overcome the physical toll of the playoffs.

READ MORE: Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks Take 2-1 Series Lead Over OKC Thunder

READ MORE: PJ Washington is Stepping Up For the Dallas Mavericks When He's Needed Most

READ MORE: Dallas Mavericks Gut Out Game 3 Win Over OKC Thunder: 3 Game-Changing Plays

Stick with MavericksGameday for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks throughout the NBA Playoffs 

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Grant Afseth


Grant Afseth is a Dallas Mavericks reporter for MavericksGameday.com and an NBA reporter for NBA Analysis Network. He previously covered the Indiana Pacers and NBA for CNHI's Kokomo Tribune and various NBA teams for USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Follow him on Twitter (@grantafseth), Facebook (@grantgafseth), and YouTube (@grantafseth). You can reach Grant at grantafseth35@gmail.com.