Luka Doncic is ready to get back to work.
Both for the Mavericks and in fulfilling his dream of being in this weekend’s All-Star Game.
Doncic said on Tuesday that, after missing seven games with a sprained right ankle, he’s eager to get back on the court, which – assuming there are no setbacks before then – will happen Wednesday against Sacramento in the final game before the All-Star break.
“Tomorrow, I’m ready to play,” Doncic said. “I’m just excited to be back out there and playing again.”
“It’s always tough not to play the sport you love. You love being out there with your teammates. It’s been tough for me. But I’m happy to be back.”
Doncic hurt his ankle in late January and the Mavericks have gone 3-4 without him. They were 2-2 in December when he was out with a similar right ankle injury.
Doncic felt it was important to get back before the break because he wants to play this weekend at the All-Star festivities in Chicago. He is scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Game on Friday and the All-Star Game on Sunday.
He said he intends to do both.
“It’s important,” the 6-7 point guard said. “It’s not every time you’re an all-star, you know. For the organization, for me, for a lot of people, I want to play in the game.
“Since I was a kid, I dreamed about it. Being there Sunday in that game . . . just being there.”
Doncic will be starting on LeBron James’ team against the squad headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo. And, yes, Doncic said he’s already thought about the lob passes he can throw to James.
“I hope so,” he said. “I’m not going to be the one dunking, that’s for sure.”
That’s in deference to his ankle, obviously.
“You try not to worry about it, but you’re going to worry about,” Doncic said of his ankle. “It’s tough, especially the first couple games. You think about it. You don’t want to go through it again. But I try not to think about it.
“I’ve sprained my ankle before, but not like two times in a row in that little time. That never happened before.”
Doncic, who averages 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists, has been doing rehab to make the ankle stronger and he understands that if you land on somebody’s foot, there’s not a lot that you can do about it.
But Dirk Nowitzki fought ankle issues for years and learned to deal with them and get the sort of preventative maintenance and tape-jobs that could help prevent them or minimize their impact.
For now, it’s just a blessing for Doncic to be back in time for the last game before the break and to be involved in the All-Star weekend.
“If you got voted as a starter in the All-Star Game, wouldn’t you think it would be important to play in it if you’re able,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who remained cautious, saying Doncic will be upgraded to either questionable or probable on Wednesday. “It’s important to all of us. But nobody here is putting individual things above team things. It’s really important that his rehab over the last 10 days has gone extremely well and he’s potentially positioned to play tomorrow. That’s the most important thing.
“Playing in the All-Star Game? It’s a big deal. What goes on with our team is more important. But playing in the All-Star Game if you get voted as a starter? Pretty big deal.”
As Doncic said: “The important thing is to win games. Right now, we’ve had a tough couple of weeks. We just got to get back on track and win games.”