Mavs' Dereck Lively II's Injury Status 'Unclear' for Game 4

The standout rookie went down after taking a knee to the head from Karl-Anthony Towns in Game 3.
Mavericks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks all but cemented their place in the 2024 NBA Finals by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 116-107, on Sunday night to go up 3-0 in the Western Conference finals. It was an impressive win made even more so by Dallas losing standout rookie center Dereck Lively II in the first half to a neck injury.

It was brutal to watch. Lively took a knee to the head from Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns and went down hard. The violence of the impact led everyone to assume Lively suffered a concussion, but the Mavs announced he actually had a neck sprain and was questionable to return to Game 3. He did not step foot on the court again but his teammates pulled it out anyway.

Afterwards, ESPN's Tim MacMahon and Dave McMenamin reported Lively left the arena to undergo tests to evaluate the severity of his neck injury. On Monday morning, fellow ESPNer Adrian Wojnarowski reported tests on Lively's neck came back OK, "but his availability for Game 4 remains unclear."

It is great to hear that Lively's injuries apparently aren't as bad as it looked. He got hit hard by a very large man with a lot of momentum. To seemingly avoid a concussion and serious injury is an excellent development.

The Mavericks built in a lot of room for error with the Game 3 win so there's no need to rush Lively back. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit. They can afford to play shorthanded and bank on their superstars delivering Dallas to the promised land for the first time since Dirk Nowitzki graced the court while Lively gets healthy in time for the last series of the year.

A positive development for the Mavs and Lively.

Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.