X-factor that will decide Dallas Mavericks vs. Jazz playoff series: 1. Luka’s health
Luka Doncic has been incredible in his first four NBA seasons. He will likely finish in the top five in MVP voting and be selected first-team All-NBA for the third straight year. The 23-year-old takes his game to another level in the playoffs, and he was already playing the best basketball of his career down the stretch.
Doncic was putting on another show on Sunday night when he suffered a calf injury in the third quarter that puts his status for Game 1 against the Jazz in doubt. Lower leg injuries are always tricky, and the first round begins on April 16 at noon CT. It is a short turnaround from a calf injury.
Will Luka play early in the series? If so, how close to 100 percent will the 23-year-old superstar be? The Mavericks need him to be their offensive engine and primary shot creator to have any chance to defeat the Jazz. Can Doncic play well enough through the injury to help Dallas advance?
Luka’s health will be something to watch in every game. Fans may remember he injured his ankle in the bubble playoffs before coming back just two nights later and producing a 43-point triple-double that included sinking the game-winning buzzer-beater. Doncic is one of the toughest players in the NBA, and he will try to play. His impact on the game will be the biggest X-factor in the series.
With a healthy Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks would be favored to defeat the Utah Jazz and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Stay tuned for updates on Doncic’s injury and plenty more analysis on the series.