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Mavericks' Luka Doncic Enters NBA's COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 22, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 10: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks walks across the court in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 10, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks announced Luka Doncic entered the NBA's health and safety protocols.

As a result, the two-time All-Star will be out for Thursday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He has already missed Dallas' last five games because of an ankle injury, with the Mavs going 3-2 over that span.

Teams around the NBA are struggling to have enough players active amid the surge in positive COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. On Wednesday, the NBA postponed two more games because the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets fell below the eight-player threshold.

Despite the difficulties posed by the present situation, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN's Malika Andrews on Tuesday that the league isn't going to enter a temporary pause:

Malika Andrews @malika_andrews

Commissioner Adam Silver joined NBA Today to talk about COVID in the league as Christmas Day approaches. <br><br>Silver said there are currently no plans to pause the season. <a href="https://t.co/LFIPCCejnQ">pic.twitter.com/LFIPCCejnQ</a>

As a result, the Mavericks will have to continue forging ahead without their best player. The NBA could be without another of its biggest stars for Christmas, with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks possibly missing out on the noon ET game at the New York Knicks before the Mavs are slated to play at the Utah Jazz at 10:30.

Doncic is averaging 25.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists. Wednesday's news is another setback in a season when off-court stories have overshadowed his performance on it.

The 22-year-old's absence will force Jalen Brunson to take over as Dallas' lead playmaker. The 6'1" guard is dishing out 5.2 assists per game, second-best on the team, and averaging 15.3 points.