The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 106-81 on Sunday night to even up their first-round playoff series at 2-2.
Putting aside the fact that the momentum in this match-up has completely shifted in favor of LA, Dallas has another pressing worry at this point: the health status of star player Luka Doncic.
After Sunday’s game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle admitted to reporters that Doncic’s neck was hurting bad.
“He’s in pain,” Carlisle said.
“It appeared to me that he couldn’t turn left, couldn’t look to his left, and that’s difficult for a guy that relies on peripheral vision and basically has played his whole life with his head on a swivel.”
Doncic seemed similarly distressed by the injury, but he tried to put on a brave face.
“I don’t think that matters right now. … I played terrible, so we just got to move on to the next one.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2021
While it’s admirable that Doncic is committed to playing through the pain and being there for his team, the fact that his injury continues to linger is bad news for all parties involved.
Doncic was visibly hobbled on Sunday, going 9-of-24 from the field, 1-of-7 from three-point range and 0-of-5 from the free-throw line. He finished with 19 points, six assists and six rebounds – pedestrian numbers given what he has been doing thus far in the playoffs.
The details are brutal. https://t.co/qU3GerHiu6
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 30, 2021
This has been a topsy-turvy year for the Mavericks. Doncic came into the season fat and out of shape, has been frustrated on multiple occasions, visibly acted out more than once, beefed with a teammate and somehow managed to overcome all of that to steal two games from the Clippers at home just last week.
But it feels like things are starting to return to the norm, and Doncic’s persistent neck injury will likely serve as the reason Dallas gets an early boot from the playoffs.