DALLAS – Luka Doncic will be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday night when the Dallas Mavericks entertain the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center.
Doncic, the Mavs’ star point guard, missed the previous two games while nursing a right thigh contusion suffered in last Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat. The rookie from Slovenia admitted how difficult it was to sit and watch the Mavs play without him being able to contribute.
“When I miss games it’s hard for me,” Doncic said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround at AAC. “I just want to be there on the court.
“I know this season is going to end soon, so I just want to play. And after this season, it’s going to be a long time until we play.”
Doncic suffered the injury when he had a violent knee-to-knee collision with Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. very early on last Thursday’s game. Doncic hobbled off the court, but returned a short time later and finished the 105-99 loss to the Heat with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes.
When the injury happened, Doncic immediately knew of its severity.
“I got hit in the beginning of the game, so I was kind of warm,” Doncic said. “It hurt, but I could still play, so I finished that game.”
Even with Doncic sidelined, the Mavs won their last two games against a pair of teams that are headed to the playoffs. The Mavs went into Oklahoma City this past Sunday and upset the Thunder, 106-103, and on the very next night they hammered the Philadelphia 76ers, 122-102, at AAC.
Point guards Trey Burke contributed team highs of 25 points and eight assists against the Thunder, and Jalen Brunson added 18 points and four assists. And against the Sixers, Burke collected 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Brunson finished with 13 points and a game-high seven assists.
“They played great – we got two wins,” Doncic said. “They showed that they can play really good and I’m happy for them.”
Coach Rick Carlisle was also pleased with the way Brunson and Burke ran the offense in Doncic’s absence.
“Just look at the scores,” Carlisle said. “We got a road win against one of the top teams in the West (in Oklahoma City), and then at home against a top team in the East (in Philadelphia).
“Philly didn’t have a couple of their good players (in Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler), but our point guard play has been very much on-point. It’s been efficient, it’s been progressive and those guys have kept the ball moving, so it’s been good.”