Mavs' Luka Doncic Exits Game 3 vs. Clippers After Suffering Ankle Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2020

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic (77) makes his way down the court during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was ruled out of Friday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers after attempting to play through a sprained left ankle. 

Doncic rolled his ankle late in the third quarter and was initially cleared to return after hobbling back to the locker room: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Luka Doncic heads to the locker room after turning his ankle https://t.co/TKQ04xCf64

But after re-entering at the start of the fourth quarter and serving mainly as an off-ball distributor, Doncic checked himself out of the game and returned to the locker room for further evaluation. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Doncic is frustrated after trying to fight through a left ankle sprain. Prayers up 🙏 He’s out for the rest of the game https://t.co/S8aslvHxbZ

"Unsure of the exact severity of Luka's left ankle," head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after the Mavs' loss. "We'll know more tomorrow. He did come back and try it obviously and wasn't moving great, so we'll see where he is come tomorrow and then Sunday morning."

Doncic downplayed the injury during his postgame meeting with reporters. 

"It's not that bad," he said. "Honestly, I had luck that it was my left ankle. It's not my right."

According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, "pre-MRI indications are it's a mild sprain."

After winning the Rookie of the Year in 2019, the 21-year-old has raised his game to another level in his second season. He averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists, earning his first trip to the All-Star Game.

Injuries have been a minor nuisance for Doncic, though. He battled a right ankle sprain in February and then a left thumb sprain to open March.

Although Dallas ranked first in offensive rating (115.9), per NBA.com, its somewhat porous defense will likely prevented the team from challenging the elite of the Western Conference. The Mavs are down to 18th in defensive rating (111.2). 

Doncic isn't blameless for that vast disparity. As great at he is on offense, his defense remains a work in progress.

Still, nobody questions his overall value. Any hope the Mavericks have of springing an upset in the playoffs will rest firmly on Doncic's shoulders.