The Dallas Mavericks (52-30) and Utah Jazz (49-33) are locked for a first round playoff game.
The start of the playoffs is set for Saturday, and the NBA has announced the peak times for each of these matchups. The Mavericks and Jazz will play the first game of their series at 1:00 p.m. (ET) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.
The key storyline surrounding Game 1 is the availability of Luka Doncic, who injured his calf late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 130-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs. It remains to be seen whether he will miss the start of the series.
When Mavericks coach Jason Kidd spoke to reporters after Sunday’s game, he hadn’t spoken to either the coaching staff or Doncic. He also explained that more information will be known on Monday.
“For some reason, I feel like he’ll be ready to go, knowing what a competitor he is,” Mavericks goaltender Jalen Brunson said.
Being scheduled to be Game 1 of the playoffs is the worst-case scenario for the Mavericks. Not only do they lose what could have been an extra day of recuperation for Doncic, but the early whistleblowing delay adds an additional complication to the situation.
In the event Doncic couldn’t play in Game 1, the Mavericks relied on Spencer Dinwiddie as their primary guard option to replace him. Dallas has played two games this season with Doncic sidelined since acquiring Dinwiddie at the trade deadline. Dallas won both games while Dinwiddie averaged 31.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in those two performances.
With Tim Hardaway Jr. unexpected for the remainder of the season, the Mavericks could face a situation where Dinwiddie and Brunson are the primary guard options available to play in Game 1.
The Jazz have struggled to blow double-digit second-half leads lately. However, they will have their key players healthy for Game 1. The need to keep pace with Donovan Mitchell should not be overlooked as he averaged 33.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in its last two playoffs.