Luka Doncic Is Expected To Miss Game 1 Against The Jazz With His Calf Strain

The Dallas Mavericks will host the Utah Jazz in the first game of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET, and that early draw didn’t do them an awful lot of favors considering they saw Luka Doncic leave their regular season finale with a left calf strain.

An MRI confirmed Doncic’s injury but the team would not offer a timetable for his return, and they likely won’t make anything official until Saturday just before tipoff. On Thursday, Doncic was at the Mavs facility, but only doing weights work and nothing on the court yet.

Later in the day, word emerged from Shams Charania of The Athletic that the Mavs are not expecting to have their superstar for Game 1 against the Jazz on Saturday, an obvious blow to their hopes of making it out of the first round for the first time since landing Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.

With Game 2 on Monday night, eight days removed from when he suffered the injury, there is maybe a sliver of hope Doncic could be back by then, but it seems more likely that the star misses both home games to open the series and could hopefully use the two days off before Thursday’s Game 3 in Utah to try and make his return to the floor.

Dallas is in the unenviable position of trying to balance the long-term health of Doncic (which is, of course, in their best interests) with their goals of this season, in which they have been one of the hottest teams in the West and, prior to Doncic’s injury, figured to be favored to reach the second round and get a crack at the Phoenix Suns. Calf strains are a particularly difficult injury to manage and playing through it can lead to something much worse, so the Mavs will likely err on the side of caution if Doncic is feeling any continued discomfort. Finding a way to split the first two games at home without their star would buy them some added time to get him back and at full strength, but that will be a tall order considering his importance to their success.