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Basketball

What I’m Watching: The Mavericks’ Playoff Opener, Which May or May Not Include Luka Doncic

Plus: another Stars-Lightning tilt, and baseball’s most exciting star comes to Arlington
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The city of Toronto got plenty over on North Texas, with the Maple Leafs trouncing the Stars before the Blue Jays took two games of three from the Rangers in the season-opening series. As for the Mavs … yeah.

Here’s what I’m watching this week, which is, in fact, bigger than a certain Slovenian’s health heading into Saturday’s playoff series opener with Utah.

Tuesday, 4/12: Lightning at Stars8:30 p.m., ESPN

Stars versus Lightning? Current Norris shortlister Victor Hedman against future shortlister Miro Heiskanen? On national television? Say less.

Thursday, 4/14: Rangers versus Angels7:05 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest

Texas first AL West game of 2022 is also their first date with old rival Los Angeles, which means their first date with Mike Trout and two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Added bonus? Ohtani will be starting this game, too, giving us all the chance to see professional sports’ most unique talent in his full element.  

Saturday, 4/16: Will Luka Doncic play in the Mavericks’ playoff opener?—12 p.m., ESPN/Bally Sports Southwest

The Mavericks’ regular-season finale began as a battle for playoff seeding. Once third-placed Golden State, who held a tiebreak over Dallas, began to run away in their finale matchup against New Orleans, the Mavs game appeared to devolve into a meaningless playoff tune-up.

Then disaster struck: with 2:24 left in the third quarter, Luka Doncic exited the game with a calf strain. The 23-year-old underwent an MRI yesterday afternoon, and the team has been predictably cagey about the results, issuing a statement this afternoon reading, “Doncic has begun treatment and there is no timetable for his return. Updates will be provided as available.”

What could we be looking at? I’ll leave that to Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer and the proprietor of the excellent InStreetClothes.com:

Stotts also noted that the only experience Dallas has with the injury this season came in November, when Frank Ntilikina sat out four games over 12 days.

So in spite of Jalen Brunson’s confidence that Doncic will be on the floor Saturday, the odds are not working in his favor. And you do not need me to tell you that every game Doncic misses puts the Mavericks in increased jeopardy of going out in the first round for the third consecutive season. We’ll have plenty more previewing the series over the next few days.

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Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…

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