Dallas Mavericks' Dereck Lively II 'Trending' Toward Playing Game 1 vs. LA Clippers

Dereck Lively II is looking increasingly likely to play in Game 1 of the Dallas Mavericks' playoff series against the LA Clippers.
Mar 11, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against
Mar 11, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS — Dereck Lively II has practiced with the Dallas Mavericks throughout the week leading into Sunday's Game 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.

After Friday's practice, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told reporters that Lively has a positive outlook to play on Sunday.

"He was good today," Kidd said of Lively. "We'll look at tomorrow, but everything is trending in the right direction. He's been great with that second unit, and he's ready to go."

Mar 11, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against
Mar 11, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Lively averaged 8.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 55 games this season. He continues to fill a vital role as one of the Mavericks' rim protectors and interior play finishers.

With Daniel Gafford and Lively as their dynamic duo at center, the Mavericks possess a strong one-two punch in that position. Derrick Jones Jr., a standout wing defender for the team, commended the depth at center, noting that there is no noticeable decline in play when one substitutes for the other.

“With Gaff and D-Live, we have one who starts, and one comes off the bench," Jones said. "There’s no dip, there’s no lapse when one goes out one comes back in. They’re almost the same person. One is stronger and a little bit more experienced, but you know, with D Live, he learned a lot this year and he did a wonderful job."

Gafford praised Lively's ability to step into the game and immediately fill the void in the paint on both ends. It's a luxury many teams do not boast since there is usually a dropoff in terms of shot blocking or general talent, while the Mavericks are insulated all while having Maxi Kleber as a small ball center option.

"It means a lot, in all honesty, because if one guy falls down, the next guy steps up," Gafford said. "I would say in the case of when it comes to fouls, injuries, so on and so forth. And it's just like the one-two punch. So, if I get an early foul, I know I got somebody who's going to come in and pretty much pick up from where I left off."

Getting Lively back on the court as quickly as possible will be advantageous for his future, as it maximizes the rookie's initial experience in NBA postseason basketball.


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Grant Afseth

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.