Mavs’ Lively Suffers Neck Sprain After Knee To Head

Mavericks rookie center Dereck Lively departed Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night due to an injury labeled by the team as a neck sprain (Twitter link).

Lively was hurt during the second quarter when he fell backward in the lane and was inadvertently kneed in the head by Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns.

Lively’s head snapped forward upon contact. He was down on the court for several minutes before appearing dazed as he was helped to the locker room, according to The Associated Press. While many observers suspected Lively might have suffered a concussion, the team did not immediately reveal any testing results.

Lively has been a major factor in the postseason. He made all three of his field goal attempts with three rebounds in Game 3 prior to the injury and has now knocked down all 13 of his field goal attempts in the series. He had a 14-point, 9-rebound outing in Game 2.

Lively posted double-doubles in the last two games of the conference semifinals against the Thunder. Overall, he was averaging 8.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in 22.4 minutes across 14 postseason games entering Sunday’s contest.

With Dallas taking a 3-0 lead in the series, the Mavs can afford to be cautious with Lively even if he doesn’t enter concussion protocol.

If he needs to miss any games, the Mavs will have to rely on Daniel Gafford, Dwight Powell and smaller lineups to fill the void up front. Maxi Kleber remains sidelined due to a right shoulder injury.

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