Though they started well without Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks have already begun to slide in his absence. They have blown leads in two of their past three games, including a 30-point lead against the Toronto Raptors Sunday despite the absence of Raptors' stars Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol. As deep as they are, the Mavericks obviously need their superstar back. Fortunately, he's ready to return as the Mavericks is available to play Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
"He is responding well to treatment," Carlisle said of Doncic last week. "He is progressing well."
Doncic hasn't played since suffering an ankle sprain against the Miami Heat on Dec. 14. With just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter in the contest against the Heat, Doncic drove to the basket and appeared to step on the foot of Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn. Doncic immediately fell into the stands, where he lay for several minutes before limping back to the locker room. He was initially expected to miss a couple weeks of action. You can see the play where the injury occurred below:
Prior to the injury, Doncic was in the middle of an MVP-caliber season as he has taken his game to stratospheric levels. On the year, he is averaging 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 8.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He also appeared to be well on his way to his first career All-Star appearance.
Though the Mavericks certainly miss Doncic's presence, they have fared decently well without him so far. In the three full games that he has missed with the injury, Dallas lost to the Celtics in Boston, but also bested the Bucks in Milwaukee and took down the 76ers in Philadelphia. Kristaps Porzingis, especially, has stepped up his game in Doncic's absence, as he recorded four straight games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds before that streak was (barely) snapped against the Raptors.
Considering how important Doncic is to the franchise, the Mavs will certainly be cautious with his return. However, barring a setback, it sure sounds like we will be seeing him back out on the court tonight.