After missing the first two games of the series with a calf injury, Doncic was upgraded to questionable for Game 3 Thursday against the Utah Jazz. But even if he able to return in Game 3, or more likely Game 4 on Saturday, he won’t be at full strength. But even an 80 percent Doncic is pretty good.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be at 100 percent,” Doncic said on Wednesday. “I think that would be tough right now. But if I’m ready and there’s no risk of injury, I’ll be out there. I feel way better than I was. I’ve improved everyday, and I’m going to keep going from here.”
Doncic, not exactly a Jazz fan favorite, looks forward to playing Vivint Arena.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “The crowd, they’re incredible. They’re loud and I like to play in those situations. I just want to be out there, that’s it.”
“Luka is obviously an elite player,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “Brunson has played at an elite level. We’ve been conscious of the fact that he’s going to come back at some point in the series.”
As for the Jazz, they need Mike Conley on the floor. Mired in foul trouble in Game 2, Conley played just 22 minutes and didn’t score a single point.
“I felt like I sat down for a good 45 minutes not doing anything,” Conley said. “Then you get in the game and you don’t have any rhythm. You can’t guard anybody anymore because its a physical game, but if I get caught, I’m getting my fifth or sixth foul. So, it made me have to play a little bit different.”
Dallas’ plan is to beat the Jazz at their own game. Utah was second in the NBA in three-point attempts this season, yet it was the Mavs attempting 47 three’s in Game 2, making a franchise-record 22 of them.
“They’re obviously seeking the three,” Snyder said. “They’ve been very transparent about that. It’s a little ironic because that’s something that we’ve wanted to do. We haven’t been able to do it the way that we want.”
There really is no playoff atmosphere like the one here in Utah, and the Jazz hope to feed off that energy Thursday night.
“They’re huge and they know it,” Conley said. “This is probably one of the toughest places to play in a playoff environment. There’s so much pressure that can be built up in that arena because of how loud it gets.”