Luka Doncic Returning from Calf Injury for Mavs vs Jazz Game 3; on Minute Restriction

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2022

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 18: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball while working out prior to Game Two of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 18, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. 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 Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks superstar guard Luka Doncic has been cleared to play in Game 4 of the Mavs' first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd announced that Doncic will play and be on a minutes restriction, although he didn't say how many minutes Doncic would play.

Doncic missed each of the first three games of the series with a calf injury suffered in Dallas' regular-season finale.

Even with their best player missing the first three games of the series, the Mavericks own a 2-1 series lead, and they will look to push the Jazz to the brink of elimination Saturday in Utah.

The 23-year-old Doncic, who is a three-time All-Star in four NBA seasons, put up MVP-caliber numbers again during the 2021-22 regular season.

In 65 games, Doncic averaged 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 3.1 three-pointers made and 1.2 steals per contest while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from long range.

With Doncic leading the way, the Mavs went 52-30, which was their best record since posting a 57-25 mark in 2010-11, which concluded with Dallas winning the NBA championship.

The Mavericks secured the No. 4 seed in the competitive Western Conference by virtue of their 52-30 mark, setting the stage for a first-round clash with a supremely talented Jazz team.

Utah has one of the deepest teams in the NBA with Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson leading the way, but inconsistent play and blown leads have plagued the Jazz this season.

They had a golden opportunity to take firm control of the series while Doncic was out, but that didn't happen thanks largely to the play of Mavs guard Jalen Brunson.

Even when playing second fiddle to Doncic, Brunson enjoyed a career year during the regular season with 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, but he reached a different level over the first three games of the playoffs.

With Doncic on the shelf, Brunson exploded for averages of 32.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest, including 41 points in a Game 2 win.

Now, the Mavs are poised to get back one of the best players in the NBA to pair with a red-hot Brunson, which could spell even further trouble for the reeling Jazz.