We know Luka Doncic has a high pain threshold.
How else would he put up with some of the annoying, repetitive questions he gets from media members?
But physical pain is different than mental anguish.
It hurt to watch Doncic against San Antonio on Wednesday night. And his nasty thumb sprain has left him questionable for Friday’s tantalizing game against Miami. If Doncic plays – and it’s hard to see him missing a Slovenian-themed night against fellow countryman Goran Dragic – it will be a meeting of two very solid teams who are angling for playoff positioning.
But still, this thumb thing is the kind of injury that tends to linger. It continually gets hit, remains sore and causes pain.
Every time he got hit on his left hand against the Spurs, he quickly grabbed it and you could tell this was not a grab for sympathy. There was some serious pain going on there.
Yes, it’s his left hand and he said he doesn’t use that much. But he goes left more than you think and a hand injury can impact a player in more ways than just shooting. Catching the ball, dribbling, giving a simple high-five, none of it is easy when you have a sprained left thumb that is painful anytime you do anything.
And this doesn’t even address the sore ankle that has been bugging Doncic since he returned from the All-Star break and kept him from playing the second night of a back-to-back last weekend.
It’s that time of year. A lot of teams are fighting through injuries to key players. The Mavericks also have Jalen Brunson out with his right shoulder sprain. He’s left-handed, but it’s still a nuisance to deal with, especially if there is more damage, such as a torn labrum, as ESPN suggested is feared.
That means he could be compromised the rest of the season in terms of having to deal with pain tolerance on top of the general wear and tear all players go through.
Owner Mark Cuban has said so many times that the only goals going into the playoffs are to be healthy and playing well. Nothing else – not who you play or starting on the road – really matters.
With the playoffs starting in seven weeks, the clock is ticking on the Mavericks getting as healthy as they can.
This will put Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks’ stellar athletic training staff in the crosshairs to make the right decisions to manage aches and pains. Injuries are different than pain. But pain can be load-managed, too.
Doncic is coming off of one of his best games of the season. And not just because of the triple-double he had against San Antonio. He controlled the game in the stretch after it was tied at 96. He made the right decisions, got the ball to the right shooters, assisted on three baskets and made one himself during a 12-0 run that won the game.
It was probably the best clutch-time showing for Doncic – and the team as a whole – this season.
But even then, you could see Doncic shaking his left hand whenever he got whacked on it. And don’t think for a second that teams won’t be swiping at the ball and – oops – if they happen to swat the left hand instead, it might be worth the foul (if it’s called) to slow down the otherwise difficult to stop drives that Doncic makes to the basket.
This is just another variable that will impact the Mavericks down the stretch. They are 13 games over .500 for the first time this season going into the Miami game. There will be times the rest of the way when Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis must rest or otherwise sit to ensure their best possible health come mid-April.
Share and comment