Luka Doncic listed as questionable for Game 4 with cervical strain
After the Dallas Mavericks took a 19-point lead and lost Game 3 of their first-round playoff series to the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s now understood that superstar playmaker Luka Doncic is considered questionable for Game 4. with a cervical strain.
Doncic complained that his neck was sore in Game 3, and Mavs medics worked on it. During his Zoom session with the media on Saturday, coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t know much more about Doncic’s status than to say:
“If you ask me if I think he’s going to play or not, I think he’s going to play. But we’ll see tomorrow. These things, day to day, you wake up the next morning, it can be a lot worse than you thought, so we’ll see.
Although the Mav lost Game 3 to the Clippers, 118-108, Doncic was absolutely spectacular – save for a few missed free throws. The third-year veteran scored 44 points, caught nine rebounds, distributed nine assists, 15 of 28 on the field, 7 of 13 from beyond the 3-point arc and 7 of 13 on the charity strip. .
For the series, the Clippers have been unable to contain Doncic as he averages 38 points, 8.7 rebounds and nine assists. He’s also shooting 51.9% from the field for the series, 45.9% from 3-point distance, but just 48.1% (13 of 27) from the free throw line.
Without a doubt, the Mavs are in desperate need of Doncic for Game 4 – it starts at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the American Airlines Center – if they have any ideas for winning this series. The Mavs lead this best-of-seven series, 2-1.
“Overall, questionable, from what I’ve seen this year with other teams and our team, is more likely to play than not to play in most cases,” Carlisle said. “I think he’s probably going to play and I hope he feels better tomorrow.”
The Mavs still have the advantage on the pitch: The Mavs showed courage and determination to secure two wins in Los Angeles in the first two games of this best-of-seven series. Now, having returned one of those wins – thanks to the 118-108 loss at home against the Clippers on Friday – the Mavs know Game 4 is taking on even greater significance.
Especially since a Dallas victory would give the Mavs a 3-1 lead in the series, a loss would tie things up at 2-2 and put the Clippers back on the ground.
“As I always say, we have to focus on the process, which is going to be trying once again to get off to a good start and do a better job of sustaining. It was a wonderful atmosphere last night. I mean, just amazing.
“I think it helped us get off to a good start. But we have to do a better job to maintain that, and that will definitely be a goal for Game 4. “
A noisy crowd of over 17,000 passed through the AAC turnstiles for Game 3. This is the largest in-person crowd to attend an NBA game since the Mavs sold their home game. of March 11, 2020 against the Denver Nuggets.
After this game more than 14 months ago, the NBA suspended the game due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout this series, Carlisle explained that he was happy with his team’s poise and composure, even though things got a bit unstable in Game 3.
“Things got a little heated up last night, but it’s going to happen a bit,” Carlisle said. “In the last few games of the season, they were all must-see games, and every playoff game falls into this all-important category.
“It’s important to be aggressive, but keep your cool, and I think that will be key as we head into Game 4.”
Defense must be better: One of the main talking points in Game 3 is that Mavs need to be much better on the defensive side of the ground for the remainder of this series.
The Clippers shot an incredible 57.9% from the field (44 of 76) and 41.9% from a 3-point field (13 of 31) in Game 3. The Mavs know those numbers must be significantly lower. ‘they plan to do so. win this series.
“The first thing is we have to defend better,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “Better defense will always create better offensive opportunities. This will always naturally create more balance in your attack.
“We gave up 58 or 59 percent from the field, a high number of three and they shot their free throws really well (17 of 18), so the team’s defense needs to be better. And there are some controllable things that we need to do better.
While the Mavs got 44 points from Luka Doncic in Game 3, the Clippers were able to make up for that with 36 points from Kawhi Leonard and 29 points from Paul George. In addition, Marcus Morris Sr. drilled three 3-pointers at a crucial point in the fourth quarter, and Reggie Jackson added four more downtown hoops.
“They put you in tough spots with their two superstars and their shooting,” Carlisle said. “Everyone paid the price in the third game. We have to do a better job overall to better defend situations, which makes it difficult for their great players, and to try to get the shooters out of the 3-point line.
“They structured their team really well by putting the best 3-point shooting team in the league around George and Leonard. And they have a great, great man with (Ivica) Zubac.
And that’s not all.
“Regarding their plan (Game 3), they obviously made an effort to close the paint more,” Carlisle said. “They did a good job.
“We only had 24 paint points and we need to get in more. But again, with better defense, we’ll have more opportunities there.