Luka Doncic could return in Sacramento as NBA shortens protocols

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks have played eight straight games without superstar Luka Doncic. He injured his ankle in the third quarter of the Dec. 10 game versus the Pacers, and the Mavs were hopeful he could return after missing five games before the 22-year-old entered the health and safety protocols on Dec. 22.

After Monday’s win in Portland, the Mavericks have split the eight games without their superstar. Jalen Brunson is filling in admirably as the starting point guard, but the team has a ceiling without Doncic.

On Monday, the NBA announced that vaccinated players and coaches that do not have symptoms can exit the protocols after six days if they’re no longer infectious. That moves up Luka’s earliest return date to Dec. 28, and could allow him to come back for the team's next game.

Luka Doncic could return in Sacramento as NBA shortens protocols

The Mavs have two straight games against the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday and Friday nights before traveling to Oklahoma City for the team’s first game of 2022 on Jan. 2. Luka should return in one of those three games as long as his ankle is healthy enough to allow him to play.

Dallas will be cautious with their superstar. They will not want him to play unless he can handle a significant workload, which could mean easing him back after he clears protocols. Doncic’s conditioning has been an issue to begin the season, so expect them to monitor him closely as he exits the protocols.

The Dallas Mavericks are eager to get Luka Doncic back in the lineup as they look to climb out of the play-in tournament. The team’s offensive engine has not played his best basketball of the 2021-2022 season yet, but fans know he is an unstoppable force once he hits his stride. Stay tuned for Luka updates and all the latest on the Mavs at The Smoking Cuban.

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