Mavericks’ Lively out, Doncic available for Game 4 vs. Timberwolves

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since winning it all in 2011, but will be shorthanded going into Game 4 on Tuesday.

Rookie Dereck Lively will not play against the Minnesota Timberwolves due to a neck sprain.

Lively, 20, took a knee to the head early in the Mavericks’ Game 3 win on Sunday and was ruled out after playing just nine minutes.

He did not enter concussion protocol for the injury but was dealing with discomfort throughout Dallas’ off day, and in the 24 hours leading to tip-off Lively’s status downgraded from doubtful to out.

The 12th overall pick has taken a backseat to Daniel Gafford for much of the playoffs but remained vital to the team’s success as their primary big in closing lineups.

Lively is averaging 8.5 points on 65.3 per cent shooting while grabbing 7.1 rebounds in his 21.5 minutes of action throughout the post-season.

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic will be available for Game 4 despite being listed as questionable with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness. The five-time All-Star is averaging 28.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and nine assists throughout the playoffs without missing a single game to this point.

Not to mention the countless big shots he’s hit for Dallas throughout the post-season like his game-winner over Rudy Gobert in Game 2.

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Forward Maxi Kleber will also be available after missing their last 10 games with a separated shoulder. The German suffered the injury on May 3 in the Mavericks’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kleber had been averaging 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in just under 20 minutes a game through the playoffs.

Mavericks fans will surely be watching the status of all three players closely as they head into Game 4 with a 3-0 series lead. They’ll be on their home court needing just one more win, and if they can get it done on Tuesday, it may earn them a couple extra days of much-needed rest ahead of the NBA Finals.

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