Luka Doncic not yet green-lighted in knockout match, but Mavs remains ‘optimistic’ of calf injury return

Based on his credentials – as a baseball Hall of Fame guard and now Mavericks coach, not a medical professional – Jason Kidd understands Luka Doncic’s left leg strain condition as follows: Doncic faced the red light on Tuesday. He did not train.

Kidd is hoping ahead of the Dallas-Utah Jazz opener that Doncic will receive the go-ahead from the coaching staff instead.

The Mavericks on Tuesday provided few details about Doncic’s outlook for the first-round series after he struggled with exhaustion in the late third quarter of Sunday’s regular season finale and confirmed the diagnosis following an MRI on Monday.

But Kidd and Doncic’s teammates maintained that Doncic’s energy remained positive and that the opportunity to play Game 1 remained open.

“He’s in great spirits today,” Kidd said. “We’ll see how his body feels tomorrow, but I think we’ll prepare with him, and then we’ll also prepare without him – just like any injury we’ve had all season. But for him, it’s just seeing how his body feels every day. We all hope he can be in Game 1, But if not, we will prepare to move forward.”

Doncic was not on the training grounds, the weight room or the training room during part of Tuesday’s Open for Journalists training.

Kidd also didn’t disclose the grade of the 23-year-old All-Stars strain — injury experts interviewed by the Dallas Morning News on Monday said Class 1 strains include a seven to 10 day recovery period while Class 2 strains require weeks to heal — but Kidd said Doncic was present and involved during the Mavericks session.

Participate in the movie room and ride a stationary exercise bike during your workout.

Kidd said Doncic smiled a lot, giving little outward indication that the face of the franchise was in doubt to start the Mavericks’ promising playoff tour over a decade ago.

“It sounds tough to me,” said goalkeeper Spencer Dinwiddy. “I mean, he doesn’t sound like a guy who’s going to miss out on much, if any, time.”

Despite the relative ambiguity about his star’s bloodline, Kidd made one aspect clear: The Mavericks wouldn’t risk re-injury just to allow Doncic to start the playoffs.

Kidd noted a sprain of Dirk Nowitzki’s knee in Game Three of the 2003 Western Conference Finals, which kept him out of the last three games of the series. Even with an NBA Finals berth at stake, the Mavericks prioritized Nowitzki’s long-term health.

“If it hurts where he can’t play, we wouldn’t send him out there,” Kidd said. “And do something in a situation that makes things worse.”

Dallas 8-9 without Doncic this season.

He missed his first of four games against Utah – a 120-116 Christmas Eve loss – as one of six rotating players with COVID-19.

“I’m very optimistic,” goalkeeper Jalen Bronson said when asked if Doncic would play the first game.

“I mean, I hope for the best. This is our organization out there. When you think of the Dallas Mavericks, you think of him. I am obviously very optimistic, I hope for the best and we want him there.”

The NBA doesn’t require teams to file an official injury report until the day before each game, so the Mavericks will have until 5 p.m. Friday to name Doncic’s view of Game 1 — questionable, questionable, or otherwise.

Doncic may not be the only defector in question.

Kidd said Maxi Kleber participated in individual training on Tuesday but did not train with the team after missing the last four games of the regular season.

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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacted to a wrong call during the first quarter of...
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddy (26), Casey Smith, director of player health and…

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