The Mavs frontman has been battling a thigh injury that was clearly bothering him throughout the contest.
Dallas Mavericks say Luka Dončić (left thigh strain) will not return tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 9, 2023
Luka Doncic is playing through the pain with an apparent thigh injury vs. the Pelicans 👀pic.twitter.com/tKUqNFDk54
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 9, 2023
With the Mavs firmly entrenched in a Western Conference playoff race, a lengthy stint on the sidelines for Luka Doncic is the last thing they'd need.
Doncic, who had previously been sitting out one end of the Mavs' back-to-backs, suited up against the Pelicans after just playing the Utah Jazz the night before. He had not played back-to-back games for Dallas since early December before tonight. Safe to say they might rethink letting him do that again for the team's two remaining B2B sets for the year.
The Mavericks are trying to cling onto their spot in the West's top six but are also just a couple of games from falling out of the play-in picture entirely. It's not surprise that Luka Doncic wanted to play through any pain given how important each win and loss is on the standings.
Dallas has gone 3-7 in their last 10 and have yet to win consecutive games during that span. Losing Luka Doncic for any period of time would make ending that streak much harder. With five of their next six games coming against Western Conference playoff contenders – including two crucial contests against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers – the next few weeks are going to be a true test of the team's status in the West.