After a surprisingly hot start to the season, injuries have been a major issue for the Dallas Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis missed 10 games with a knee issue, Dwight Powell tore his ACL which will sideline him for the remainder of the season and Luka Doncic has missed a total of 11 games with two different ankle injuries. It seems like as soon as one player gets healthy on this team, someone else goes down.
However, it looks like the Mavericks will be getting some good news heading into the All-Star break. After Tuesday's practice, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that Doncic will be upgraded to either questionable or probable for Wednesday's game against the Sacramento Kings. During practice, Doncic was getting some shots up and looked like he was ready to get back into the starting lineup for Dallas.
Doncic has missed the last seven games with a sprained ankle that he sustained during practice in January. It was a slightly different injury than the one that sidelined him in December, but it was to the same ankle. During that span, the Mavericks went 3-4, losing two winnable games to the Wizards and Grizzlies, and dropped from No. 5 in the West standings to No. 7.
Without Doncic this Dallas team just isn't the same. Porzingis was able to get in a groove, averaging 28.8 points and 10 rebounds during that span, but it didn't result in a lot of meaningful wins. There isn't anyone on this roster that comes close to matching the production that Doncic provides, and it showed just how much the reigning Rookie of the Year is needed in order for this team to play like the top-ranked offense they possess. Without Doncic, the Mavs' net rating dropped from 5.6 to 3.2, and without a consistent third-option on this team, Porzingis had to carry a bulk of the load during that seven-game stretch.
The timing of Doncic's return coinciding with the All-Star break is perfect for a Mavs team that has been sputtering lately. Doncic will be busy during that week, as he's expected to play in the Rising Stars Game and start in the All-Star Game, but a break from routine could still be beneficial. While there were some concerns that Doncic could sit out the All-Star Game, the Mavs star said that he's ready to play in the game on Sunday. With Doncic back to full health, the Mavericks can now try and make up ground that they lost without him as they hope to break their three-year playoff absence this season.