Yeah, the Dallas Mavericks could've gotten the No. 3 seed in the West on Sunday night, but a little scoreboard peeking would've gone a long way. I can respect being locked into the task at hand, competing and trying to win, yada yada whatever…
This just SUCKS though. Luka Doncic. Injured. Late in the third quarter. In the last game before the playoffs. AFTER the NBA rescinded his 16th technical foul of the season.
Had Luka's latest tech been upheld by the league office, he would've been suspended for the Mavs' ultimately pointless 130-120 victory over the Spurs.
And you know why I said a little scoreboard watching would've gone a long way? Well, the Warriors were vying for the third seed as well, and their matchup with the Pelicans started at the exact same time (9:30 p.m. ET). Klay Thompson was going OFF like the human flamethrower he tends to be and wound up with a season-high 41 points.
SOMEONE in Dallas, literally anyone, should've been assigned one job on this fateful evening: Keep the team privy to what's going on in the other game. Evidently, that wasn't something the Mavs did. Because, you know, umm…the Pelicans were sitting four of their key players, since they have a short turnaround for the play-in tournament. And CJ McCollum went to the bench after six minutes of action. Golden State was up by 20 at halftime and by as many as 29. New Orleans got no closer than 11 from then on.
Again, Luka limped to the locker room with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter. Well before that point, say the halftime break, the Mavs had to have at least some idea that their efforts to secure the No. 3 berth were going to be in vain. Plus, if I were Dallas, I think I'd rather play the Jazz rather than Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, because, well, no one should want anything to do with the reigning MVP in a playoff series. Period.
Dallas' series against the Utah Jazz begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Bear that in mind before you read a certified athletic trainer/injury expert's take in the tweet below.
There's a difference between playing smart and playing scared. You might say, "Oh you're just being an armchair guy with 20/20 hindsight." WELL YEAH. AND…?!?!
I mean I'm baffled. It's just logic, right? Play the long game. Rest your best player who looks like he's hobbling up and down the court half the time anyway. This is about to be the first time Luka and the Mavs don't have to play Kawhi and the Clippers to begin the postseason. The opportunity is there to smash the Jazz's dreams, likely lead Donovan Mitchell to free himself to greener pastures and finally break up that awkward, shoehorned partnership with Rudy Gobert that's just painful at this point.
BUT NO. Luka is hurt. I just wrote about his simulation-breaking pass the other night, thinking about how awesome it'll be to see him in the playoffs again, this time as a favorite. I guess we can't have nice things.
Even if Luka plays — I assume he will try his damndest to, and probably even be GOOD — it's still shitty that he is, in all likelihood, not going to be even close to 100%.
Basketball gods, please accept the spirited goodwill of all the Dallas fans offering up their left calves to Luka, and make sure he's healed up enough to put on a show against Utah.