Tim Hardaway Jr.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Hardaway, Green

Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who has been bothered by a right knee sprain since midway through the team’s first-round series against the Clippers, was listed as questionable for Game 3 on Saturday not only due to that ailment but as a result of left ankle soreness as well, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Doncic hurt his ankle on Thursday when he got tangled up with Thunder guard Cason Wallace early in the fourth quarter.

“He just stepped on my foot, but nothing serious,” Doncic told reporters after Dallas’ win. “I know he didn’t do it on purpose, so nothing serious. We just thought it was a foul. Other people would get a foul call on that one.”

As banged up as he is, Doncic will be available on Saturday as the series shifts to Dallas tied at 1-1, tweets Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder. The question, MacMahon tweets, is how much the knee and ankle issues will affect the Mavericks’ star. Doncic looked to be struggling with knee soreness in a subpar Game 1 showing (6-of-19 shooting), but bounced back in Game 2 with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • After finishing third in the NBA’s 2023/24 Most Valuable Player vote, Doncic admitted that he knew this probably wasn’t his year, but said he hopes to win the award someday, according to Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Teammate Kyrie Irving believes it’ll happen. “If it’s not this year, then Luka’s on his way to winning MVP sometime in the future, very soon,” Irving said. “If you look at his numbers across the board and you look at how he was carrying our team, that’s nothing short of an MVP. He was coming off the World Cup, playing a lot of basketball for the last year and a half. I just look at all of those contributing factors, showcasing that he was the MVP of this league.”
  • The Mavericks’ greatest strength is their resilience, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, who suggests that quality may give Dallas an edge on Oklahoma City over the course of their seven-game series.
  • As both Cato and Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required) detail, the Mavericks’ role players were crucial factors in the club’s Game 2 win, upping their aggressiveness as the Thunder focused their defensive attention on Doncic and Irving. Tim Hardaway Jr. (17 points in 19 minutes) and Josh Green (11 points in 16 minutes), in particular, came up big with their best games of the postseason so far. “I want to bring as much energy as I can,” Green said, per Townsend. “Do the little things. Make the hustle plays. Shoot when I’m open. I’m confident in my shot. Just doing the little things can help out a lot.” Green signed a three-year rookie scale extension with the Mavs last fall.

Mavericks Notes: Washington, Doncic, Hardaway Jr., Pace

P.J. Washington proved to be the Mavericks‘ X-factor on Thursday, racking up 29 points and 11 rebounds in Dallas’ 119-110 win over the Thunder in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. Washington, who was added in a trade deadline deal with Charlotte, hadn’t scored more than 18 points or grabbed more than seven rebounds in any of the Mavs’ previous playoff games.

“I felt good last night and this morning,” Washington said after the contest, per Dwain Price of Mavs.com. “Going into the game I had confidence in my shot. I knew I was going to get open corner shots, so I just had to come in here and knock them down.”

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • There were questions about whether Luka Doncic could play effectively with a sprained right knee after his subpar Game 1 outing. He bounced back with 29 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in Game 2. A key stat was his 5-for-8 success rate on 3-point tries after going 5-of-35 in the previous four games, Tim MacMahon of ESPN notes. Doncic said he just had to tough it out. “It was just my mentality,” he said. “I think today was one of the hardest game I had to play. I’m battling out there. I try and do my best to help [the] team win with just my mentality. Have a great start, and then the team’s going to follow me.”
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. missed the last four games of the first round against the Clippers with a sprained right ankle. Hardaway also missed last postseason with a foot injury, so he was just glad to get back in action for Game 1, when he scored two points in 17 minutes. “Being able to go out there and feel the physicality of being on defense and offense – a lot of grabbing, a lot of holding — I’m just extremely happy to be able to accept the challenge. I missed a couple years ago and I’m looking forward to it now,” he told Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com.
  • Hardaway, who has one year left on his contract, had 17 points in 19 minutes during Game 2. “It was great. We needed him,” Washington told Sefko. “We needed every bit of it. He played his heart out on both ends of the court and I’m glad to finally get a playoff win for him this year.”
  • While the Thunder have the younger team, the Mavs were successful on Thursday by picking up the pace. They scored 99 points in the first three quarters, Price notes. “We tried to get over the speed limit tonight,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve been under the speed limit. We were more in the school zone speed limit (in Game 1). We were running (Thursday), and we’ve got to continue to keep running if we want to have a chance to win this series.”

Western Notes: Gobert, Finch, Hardaway, Pelicans, OKC, Suns

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been downgraded to questionable for Game 2 against the Nuggets on Monday night for personal reasons, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick (Twitter link), based on conversations with Wolves officials, it sounds as if Gobert’s availability is “completely up in the air.” His status is believed to be related to the birth of his first child, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Gobert only scored six points in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory, but played an important role in the win, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking three shots. The Wolves were a +12 during his 35 minutes. If he ends up missing Game 2, it will negatively impact the team’s chances of taking a 2-0 lead back home to Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Chris Finch‘s new spot on the sidelines worked out well in Game 1, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Timberwolves‘ head coach, who underwent knee surgery last Wednesday, had to sit next to the scorer’s table in the second row of the bench to protect his knee, but he had no issues communicating with his players. “It’s a little surreal just being that much separated from the action, if you will. But it was great,” Finch said. “I felt like I was in a safe place. I have utmost confidence in our staff and their ability. I thought they did an amazing job. Communicated well. Of course, it was all made better by a really good win. It’s our new reality. Just got to find a rhythm.”
  • While the Mavericks will be without big man Maxi Kleber (shoulder) for their second-round series vs. Oklahoma City, another rotation player is set to return to action. Tim Hardaway Jr., who missed the last four games of the first round with a sprained ankle, will be available on Tuesday for Game 1, tweets Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Pelicans and Thunder essentially began their rebuilding processes at the same time and were in similar positions five years ago, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, who considers how and why Oklahoma City has “zoomed ahead” of New Orleans since then.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic spoke to several national NBA reporters – from ESPN, The Athletic, NBA.com, and other outlets – about what went wrong in Phoenix this season and how they might try to fix the Suns this summer.

Western Notes: Kyrie, Lakers, Hardaway, Mann, Adelman, Warriors

Asked after Game 5 of the Mavericks‘ first-round playoff series whether he considered joining the Lakers and reuniting with former teammate LeBron James when he reached free agency last offseason, Kyrie Irving smiled and said that “everything was considered,” according to Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports.

“He’s a great friend of mine, a great brother of mine,” Irving told Rohlin. “We obviously played together [in Cleveland]. Everybody knows our history. But there were so many different factors in between. When it comes to business decisions, you have to ask the GMs, the presidents why certain things didn’t work out.” 

The Lakers were rumored as a possible suitor for Irving at the February 2023 trade deadline before he was traded to Dallas. They were mentioned again when Kyrie became a free agent, though by that point Los Angeles seemed more focused on retaining its own free agents. For his part, Irving said he’s happy with his decision to re-sign with the Mavericks.

“I know I can speak for myself that I’m grateful someone took a chance on me,” he said. “Dallas welcomed me with open arms. For me, it wasn’t time to think about the ‘what ifs.’ It was time for me to put my best foot forward. That’s what I did. It’s hard to think of the ‘what ifs,’ the allure, the thoughts of it.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Mavericks will once again be without Tim Hardaway Jr. on Friday, according to the team (Twitter link). Hardaway will miss his fourth consecutive game due to a right ankle sprain. The Clippers, meanwhile, have upgraded Terance Mann (right lower leg contusion) from questionable to available, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Mann averaged just 3.5 points in 21.7 minutes per contest in the two games Kawhi Leonard played, but has scored in double-digits and logged at least 31 minutes in each of the three games Leonard missed — Kawhi remains unavailable for Game 6, as previously reported.
  • In addition to firing head coach Darvin Ham, the Lakers have let go of all their assistants, clearing the way for the new head coach to build an entirely new staff, sources tell Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). That group of new coaching free agents includes veteran assistant Phil Handy, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • Woike of The Los Angeles Times and Khobi Price of The Orange County Register each take a look at some potential candidates to replace Ham as the Lakers‘ head coach. Both reporters cite Nuggets assistant David Adelman, with Woike writing that Adelman has fans within Los Angeles’ front office.
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic identifies eight potential big-name trade targets the Warriors could pursue this offseason. Golden State always aims high, but most of the names on the list, including Kevin Durant, Lauri Markkanen, and Paul George, look like long shots, while the most viable option – such as Zach LaVine – doesn’t seem like a great fit.

Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard Out For Game 6 On Friday

Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard has already been ruled out for L.A.’s must-win Game 6 contest against the Mavericks on Friday, the team has announced.

The 6’7″ swingman is dealing with right knee inflammation that has limited him to just two games this series. Injuries have now waylaid him for four straight postseasons, if one counts the 2022 play-in tournament during which he was still rehabilitating from a right knee ACL tear he suffered during the 2021 playoffs.

During his two healthy contests against the Mavericks, Leonard lacked a lot of his normal two-way mobility. He averaged just 12.0 PPG on 45.8% shooting from the floor and 66.7% shooting from the charity stripe, along with 8.0 RPG, 2.0 APG and 2.0 SPG.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year enjoyed his healthiest regular season in years in 2023/24, but Leonard’s good injury fortune appears to have run out during these playoffs. L.A. inked him to a three-year, $149.7MM contract extension midway through the season, but has yet to come to terms with its other injury-prone All-Star forward, Paul George.

L.A. indicated that starting shooting guard Terance Mann is considered questionable to play with a right lower leg contusion.

According to the NBA’s most recent injury report, 3-and-D Dallas wing Tim Hardaway Jr. will be unavailable with a right ankle sprain.

The Mavericks lead the Clippers 3-2 in their No. 4 vs. 5 Western Conference series matchup. The action is returning to Dallas on Friday night.

Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard To Remain Out For Game 5

The Clippers won’t have Kawhi Leonard available when they take the court for Game 5 of their series vs. the Mavericks on Wednesday, head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed today (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).

Leonard continues to be affected by right knee inflammation. He sat out Game 1, then returned for Games 2 and 3, but clearly wasn’t playing at 100%. He was ruled out for Game 4, with comments from team president Lawrence Frank at that time casting some doubt on the forward’s availability for the remainder of the first round.

While the Clippers would obviously prefer to have a fully healthy Leonard available as they look to get past the Mavericks and into round two, they actually looked better without him in Games 1 and 4 without him than they did in Games 2 and 3, when they struggled to find a rhythm while reincorporating the two-time Finals MVP.

Los Angeles won both games that Leonard missed and lost both of the contests he played, resulting in a 2-2 tie heading into Game 5. The Clippers have posted a -9.7 net rating in Kawhi’s 59 minutes of action during the series, compared to a +7.5 mark in the 133 minutes he hasn’t played.

As for the Clippers’ opponents, Mavericks star Luka Doncic will show up on the injury report due to a sprained knee, but he was able to do “everything” in practice on Tuesday and will be listed as probable, per head coach Jason Kidd (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

The prognosis isn’t as positive for Doncic’s teammate Tim Hardaway Jr., who missed the past two games with an ankle sprain. He had a setback during a Tuesday scrimmage and will be considered questionable to play on Wednesday, according to Kidd (Twitter link via MacMahon).

Injury Notes: Middleton, Giannis, Kawhi, THJ, Gafford

Bucks wing Khris Middleton sustained a right ankle sprain in the first quarter of Tuesday’s Game 2 loss to Indiana. He wound up playing 36 minutes, but he didn’t practice on Thursday and head coach Doc Rivers said “there’s a little” concern about Middleton’s availability for Game 3 on Friday, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

It’s another holding our breath situation, so honestly, I don’t know,” Rivers said (Twitter link via Nehm).

Middleton has averaged 19.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.0 APG while shooting 53.6% from the field through two games (35.5 MPG). Milwaukee would certainly miss the three-time All-Star if he’s unable to go on Friday, particularly with Giannis Antetokounmpo still out.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Speaking of Antetokounmpo, Rivers said the Bucks‘ two-time MVP was doing quite a bit of “shooting and moving” at Thursday’s practice. However, he was unable to go through live drills, as Nehm relays (via Twitter). Antetokoutnmpo was listed as doubtful before being ruled out prior to the first two games of the first-round series vs. the Pacers. The 29-year-old has been sidelined since April 9 due to a left calf strain.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed that Kawhi Leonard‘s knee responded well following Tuesday’s loss to Dallas, which was his first game back in three-plus weeks, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). Lue said Leonard will go through a non-contact practice on Thursday, Townsend adds. It’s unclear if the six-time All-Star will see even more minutes in Friday’s Game 3 after playing 35 a couple days ago.
  • Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. will be sidelined for Friday’s Game 3, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “He’ll be evaluated in a few days,” head coach Jason Kidd said. Hardaway sprained his right ankle in Game 2 and didn’t play the entire second half. Starting center Daniel Gafford (back) did not practice on Thursday and is questionable for Friday’s game, Kidd added.
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers will still be without Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and Christian Wood (knee) for Thursday’s Game 3 vs. Denver. Both players had reportedly been aiming to return tonight.

Injury Notes: G. Allen, Giannis, Hardaway, Kawhi

Suns wing Grayson Allen re-injured his right ankle early in the third quarter of Game 2 vs. Minnesota on Tuesday, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Allen, who suffered a right ankle sprain in Game 1, turned that same ankle when he landed on Mike Conley‘s foot as he tried to block a shot attempt (Twitter video link).

Allen was unable to play the final 21 minutes for the Suns, who find themselves in a 2-0 hole after Tuesday’s loss. However, X-rays on the ankle were negative, per head coach Frank Vogel. Allen is considered day-to-day and isn’t ruling out the possibility of returning for Game 3.

“Forty-eight hours in between, two days,” Allen told reporters. “We’ll see how it goes after two days.”

Allen scored just three points in more than 17 minutes of action on Tuesday, but he’s an important connecting piece in Suns lineups featuring their three stars — he can defend on the perimeter and led the NBA with a .461 3PT% this season. Phoenix was a +3 in Allen’s time on the floor on Tuesday, but ultimately lost the game by 12 points.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bucks head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf strain) was taking shots and was “on the floor a bunch” on Tuesday, suggesting that he’s “getting closer” to a return (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). However, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that Antetokounmpo still has a number of benchmarks to clear. “Still not much cutting, no scrimmaging, no all-out running yet,” Charania said. “… I think the Bucks have to be prepared to keep playing on without Giannis (and) making sure he’s 100% when he does make it back.”
  • Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. sprained his right ankle in Tuesday’s win over the Clippers and didn’t play at all in the second half (Twitter link). Hardaway’s status for Game 3 on Friday is unclear at this point.
  • Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, who played 35 minutes on Tuesday in his first game since March 31, admitted that he has some rust to shake off, but said after the loss to Dallas that his right knee felt good, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Improving his conditioning and his rhythm will be a goal for Game 3. “This is my first game in 20-something days,” Leonard said. “We got to be better as a unit overall and it starts with me. And even if my wind is low, I got to find a way.”

Kawhi Leonard Ruled Out For Clippers-Mavericks Game 1

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard has officially been ruled out for the first game of L.A.’s first round playoff series against the Mavericks this afternoon, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).

This isn’t exactly a surprise, as the prospects for Leonard’s return from right knee inflammation had looked bleak as recently as yesterday.

When healthy this season, the two-time Finals MVP has looked like the same lethal two-way powerhouse he’s been for the past decade or so. Across 68 games in 2023/24, Leonard averaged 23.7 PPG on .525/.417/.885 shooting, along with 6.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.9 BPG.

Lue did not divulge who will replace Leonard in his starting lineup, tweets Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker started in Leonard’s stead during the Clippers’ penultimate game of the regular season (Lue started backups in the season finale).

Mark Medina of The Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that Lue is uncertain if Leonard will be available for Game 2 on Tuesday night. In fact, it remains unclear if the 6’7″ swingman will even get the green light for contact workouts this week, according to Medina (Twitter link).

“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” Lue said.

The 51-31 Clippers, the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed, will host the 50-32 Mavericks at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles for the first two contests of the series before it moves to Dallas. The two clubs have twice previously squared off against each other in the first round of the playoffs since Leonard joined L.A. as a free agent, in 2020 and ’21. The Clippers won both encounters.

In other injury news, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has revealed that swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., who had been questionable to play due to an illness, will suit up, Medina tweets.

Mavs Notes: Washington, Gafford, THJ, Lively, Kidd, Harrison, Kyrie

Few NBA teams could argue they had a better trade deadline this season than the Mavericks, who fortified their rotation by acquiring P.J. Washington from Charlotte and Daniel Gafford from Washington. Dallas has been on a roll since those two new additions debuted on February 10, going 21-9 during that stretch, including a 16-2 run from March 7 to April 10.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News takes a closer look at how Washington, who grew up rooting for the Mavs, got to achieve a childhood dream by suiting up for his hometown team, while Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News (subscriber link) explores the impact Gafford has had since he arrived in Dallas.

As Sherrington writes, the Mavs are 18-3 in games Gafford has started, as he and Washington have helped turn the team into a genuine threat to make a playoff run. Six weeks ago, just avoiding the play-in and having a competitive first-round series might have been a realistic goal for the club, but now the Mavs looks like they could be the best team in the West besides Denver, Sherrington says.

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Veteran Mavs swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t practice on Friday due to an illness, but he’ll join the team in Los Angeles, per head coach Jason Kidd, and there’s no indication his availability for Sunday’s Game 1 is in jeopardy at this point. (Twitter link via Townsend). Kidd also said that big man Dereck Lively (knee) has looked good this week and is trending toward playing on Sunday.
  • Kidd and Nico Harrison are both in the third season of four-year contracts, according to Townsend, who opines in a Morning News column that the Mavs’ head coach and general manager have done enough this year to warrant contract extensions this offseason. Those decisions will be made by a new-look ownership group led by governor Patrick Dumont.
  • Kyrie Irving would have accepted an invitation to play for Team USA this summer if he had received one, but won’t hold any grudges for not being selected, telling reporters on Thursday that “the deliberation process was a tough one” for USA Basketball, as Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News relays. “I would’ve loved to, but I wish my brothers well and I just didn’t fit in to this team,” Irving said. “… At this point in my career, I think my focus should be on winning the championship and in the summertime, just going to support those guys when I get a chance.”