Luka Doncic did not make it back for Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against the Jazz. It’s highly unlikely that he will play in tonight’s Game 2, either. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Can Dallas manage to avoid heading to Utah in an 0-2 hole?
In better news, another key North Texas athlete will be back on the field this week, while the Stars’ playoff chase hits the stretch run.
Here’s what I’m watching:
Tuesday, 4/19: Rangers at Mariners—8:40 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest
Welcome back to the ’90s, everyone, as the Rangers are once again driving in runs (fifth in baseball through nine games, with 46) and losing ballgames (2-7, good for dead last in the A.L. West). Don’t expect this to continue. The lineup isn’t top-five caliber quite yet, while the pitcher-friendly Globe Life Field plus plenty of raw arm talent in the system make it unlikely the pitching staff will field the single-worst ERA in the big leagues (6.19) by more than a half run. This isn’t a playoff roster yet, but I don’t think it’s a horrible one, either.
The biggest cause for hope is Jon Gray, who is scheduled to pitch this one after a short stint on the IL to treat a blister on his pitching hand. Why should you be encouraged? Because, until that blister flared up prior to the fourth inning of his Opening Day start, Gray was dissecting one of the best lineups in baseball, striking out three and facing the minimum nine batters in his first trip through the order against Toronto. That guy looked like frontline arm. Standing toe to toe against reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray tomorrow night would provide some welcome confirmation that Texas’ latest reclamation project is well on his way to becoming one.
Wednesday, 4/20: Miro Heiskanen versus Connor McDavid, Round 2—8:00 p.m., ESPN+
The first Dallas-Edmonton game of the season was all about Heiskanen’s masterful shadowing of McDavid, the best offensive player in the sport. It was the sort of national moment that put some early helium behind Heiskanen’s Norris Trophy push and whet the appetite for a rematch on March 22—a rematch that never came after Heiskanen missed most of the month with mono. We finally get it on Wednesday, right as the Stars appear to be carving out some breathing room in their quest to secure a playoff bid.
Thursday, 4/21: Mavericks at Jazz, Game 3—8:00 p.m., NBA TV
Game 2 would be pivotal no matter Doncic’s status, but Game 3 could be the series. Whether the Mavericks show up tied at a game apiece or down 0-2, a win in Utah gives them momentum and puts pressure on a fragile Jazz team to salvage a home split before returning to a rowdy American Airlines Center, where Utah barely escaped with a Game 1 win. A Mavs loss, on the other hand, puts that same pressure on Dallas in a hostile building against a more confident and—if Doncic still can’t go—more talented Jazz team. Plan to stay up past your regular bedtime.