Luka Doncic had an MRI Friday morning to determine the severity of a heel contusion he suffered during the Dallas Mavericks 111-106 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. The imaging revealed that the heel contusion is "not severe" per Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd, but he has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Golden State Warriors.
Doncic didn't practice on Friday, and he won't travel with the team to San Francisco as it begins a five-game road trip that features games against the Warriors, Jazz, Clippers and back-to-back matchups with the Kings. While Doncic isn't expected to play Saturday, he hasn't been ruled out for the rest of the road trip.
While talking to reporters after practice, Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith alluded to Doncic not playing at the start of this road trip, saying "We've got to figure it out. Hopefully we might get (Christian) Wood back. … That'd be a nice piece to add without Luka playing." Wood, who has been out for seven games with a fractured thumb, scrimmaged at practice on Friday and is inching closer to a return, but he isn't expected to play Saturday.
Doncic sustained the heel contusion in the third quarter of Thursday night's game. As the four-time All-Star attempted to elevate for a dunk he was blocked by Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and collided with New Orleans big man Jonas Valanciunas. As Doncic fell he landed right on his right foot very bluntly and began grabbing at the back of his ankle immediately as he stood up. He tried to stay in for a couple possessions, but then signaled to Kidd on the bench to take him out of the game. Doncic walked straight back to the locker room and was then ruled out for the remainder of the game.
At the time of Doncic's injury the Mavericks led 81-55, but the Pelicans took advantage of Dallas being without its star and almost won the game down the stretch. The Mavericks ultimately pulled out the win, but it was just the latest example in showing how significant of a role Doncic plays for Dallas in each game.
Prior to the injury, Doncic worked up to 31 points, eight rebounds and four assists. The Mavericks superstar almost single-handily outscored the Pelicans after the first quarter, as New Orleans finished the first frame of action with 22 points while Doncic tallied 21 points.
This heel contusion is just the latest injury to Doncic, who also sustained an ankle sprain during Dallas' win against the Phoenix Suns last week. Doncic played just three minutes in that game, and sat out the following contest against the Utah Jazz. But when he returned in a meeting against the Pistons he showed no signs of lingering pain, dropping 53 points on 70.8 percent from the floor to outlast Detroit.
If Doncic is forced to miss extended time, it'll be incredibly detrimental to a Mavericks team that relies entirely on the brilliance of the 23-year-old guard to make their offense work. Dallas' second half meltdown against the Pelicans without Doncic was a glaring example of that. There isn't another reliable and consistent shot creator on Dallas' roster, so when Doncic misses games, the Mavericks suffer greatly.
Despite clinging onto the No. 4 spot in the West with a 28-25 record, only two games separate them from the No. 11 spot in the West. So if Doncic has to sit out several games of the Mavericks upcoming road trip, it wouldn't be surprising to find Dallas stumbling back down the standings.