Luka Doncic refutes rumors that he could be shut down: ‘When there’s still a chance, I’m going to play’

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The Dallas Mavericks felt like a postseason lock a few months ago. They reached as high as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, and on Feb. 8, they were 30-26. Well, ever since then, they have gone an abysmal 7-16 and fallen to No. 11 in the Western Conference. Now, they’d need help just to reach the play-in tournament.Β 

They trail the Oklahoma City Thunder, currently seeded No. 10, by one game with three to play, but the Thunder have the tiebreaker between the two teams. Any combination of two Thunder wins or Maverick losses would ensure that the Thunder finish ahead of the Mavericks in the standings without some luck involving three-team tiebreakers. The situation in Dallas has grown so dire that some have even speculated that the Mavericks might shut down stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving and accept defeat.

But Doncic rejected that notion on Tuesday. He confirmed after practice that he plans to play against the Kings on Wednesday, and that “When there’s still a chance, I’m going to play.” While his teammates have struggled, Doncic has done his part over the past two months. He is averaging 31 points and 7.8 assists per game since the Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving.

Looming over this postseason push for the Mavericks is the reality that, in the long run, they may actually be better off if they miss the playoffs. The Mavericks owe a first-round pick to the Knicks that they will only be able to keep if it lands in the top 10. Right now, the Mavericks have the 10th-worst record in the NBA. The NBA’s new CBA makes it significantly harder for expensive teams like the Mavericks to add talent, so a cheap top-10 rookie would be a welcome addition, or, if the Mavericks could make the money work, a valuable asset to dangle in a trade for immediate help.

Fortunately for the Mavericks, if they really are after a top-10 pick, they can likely get one without benching their stars. Everything needs to break right for Dallas to make the postseason right now, and if the past two months are any indication, that probably isn’t going to happen.

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Publish Date:2023-04-05 04:01:15

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