The Dallas Mavericks were dealt some misfortune in their season-finale win against the San Antonio Spurs, as superstar Luka Doncic suffered what was confirmed as a calf strain in the third quarter. Every waking moment since then has been anxiety-inducing, especially for the fan base, as Mavs fans collectively hold their breath until they find out if Doncic will play in Game 1 against the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
Although Doncic’s masterful play this season is the biggest reason the Mavs finished with a 52-30 record and home-court advantage for the first time in over a decade, not everyone believes that his potential absence means the Jazz will win the series.
Mitchell drives on Bullock.
Doncic’s status for Saturday is still uncertain, although many expect him to miss Game 1.
Spencer Dinwiddie will be key to Dallas’ hopes of winning the series vs. Utah.
On Thursday, former NBA player Brian Scalabrine joined Shan and RJ on 105.3 The Fan to explain why he has the ultimate confidence in the Mavs winning the series even without Doncic.
“Early on, I had the Dallas Mavericks winning in five (games),” said Scalabrine. “But based off of (Doncic’s injury), let’s just say he sits out four games… I have no idea how many games he’s going to sit out because this calf thing is weird. But if he sits out four games, I could see this being a six or seven-game series.
“Even if [Doncic] doesn’t play, I think they’ll beat the Utah Jazz. Even if he doesn’t play a single minute in the series. “
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To say the Jazz struggled down the final stretch of the season would be an understatement. Utah went 5-7 over its last 12 games with arguably the only quality win in that stretch coming in overtime against the Ja Morant-less Memphis Grizzlies. Despite Doncic’s injury situation, Utah still faces more pressure than Dallas does.
“We’ve got to prove it, we’ve got to earn it,” told Rudy Gobert told the media. “I don’t blame people for overlooking us until we accomplish something.”
Dinwiddie and Doncic.
Mitchell and Gobert.
Finney-Smith chases Mitchell.
Meanwhile, the Mavs finished the regular season by going 8-2 in their last 10 games with big road wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Jazz. The Mavs were one of the worst clutch teams in the league in the first half of the season, but they’ve morphed into the best clutch team in the league in the second half. One can see why Scalabrine feels the way he does about this upcoming series.
“I think Utah is (a) dead man walking,” Scalabrine continued. “I think they’re going to blow it up after this offseason. I think they’re going to try to reshuffle the deck. I just feel like something’s about to happen. There are a lot of expectations for Ryan Smith, who just brought the team, (and) they thought they were going to be a championship contender.
“No matter what happens (with Luka), I think Dallas will get out of this series.”