TORONTO – Just watching Luka Doncic working out on the court before Sunday’s game against the Raptors, you get the feeling cabin fever is going to set in at any moment.
Doncic is running well, doing some side-to-side movement and basically feeling a lot better a little over a week since he sprained his right ankle.
He sat out his fourth consecutive game Sunday, and the Mavericks now are idle until Thursday, when San Antonio visits American Airlines Center. But the more he is able to do in his rehab, the more you get the sense that Doncic is starting to get antsy about returning.
Coach Rick Carlisle said there still is no timetable for the MVP candidate’s return, but he painted an optimistic picture when asked how close Doncic might be.
“Closer all the time,” Carlisle said. “You guys see him out before games, he’s ramping workouts up to a higher level every day that he’s out there. I know he’s doing some conditioning stuff.
“I don’t have a firm date. We got three days after the game today and so, the group of games after Christmas are certainly in play. But nothing’s been determined. If anybody’s assuming he’s going to play the 26th, I’d write that at your own risk. It would be great if it worked out that way, but there’s a long way to go between now and then.”
Before Sunday’s game, Doncic worked on moves to the basket and shooting against assistant coach Jamahl Mosley. It was by no means at game speed, but it was a good sign that Doncic was moving around without so much as a hint of a problem with the ankle.
The Mavericks won two of the first three games without Doncic, both of the victories coming on the road at Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
“He’s doing better, and he’s been a good healer and he’s a very conscientious rehab guy,” Carlisle said. “So it’s going a good direction.”
“We’re trying to win as many games as we can. With a guy like Luka Doncic out, we’ve had to make some adjustments, but it’s the next-man-up mentality.”