The Dallas Mavericks are hanging by a thread when it comes to contending for a spot in the play-in tournament, and they’re down to their final chance.
On Friday, they will host the Chicago Bulls, and it is a game they must win, or else they will be eliminated from play-in tourney contention.
One would think Dallas would give this contest everything it has in order to provide itself with at least a chance of making the playoffs.
However, head coach Jason Kidd said Luka Doncic, his franchise player, will only play in the first quarter, and he even said that afterward, Doncic will be “done for the season.”
Jason Kidd on Luka Doncic: “He’s going to play the first quarter and then he’s done for the season.”
Kidd then backed off the “for the season” declaration a bit, but that’s the plan.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 7, 2023
Last season, the Mavs were a surprise team, as they unexpectedly upset the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the second round of the playoffs by overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits, then winning Game 7 in Arizona, 123-90.
But this season, they struggled to stay above .500, which led to their blockbuster acquisition of Kyrie Irving at midseason.
That deal led some to declare the Mavs as championship contenders, but they have actually fallen apart ever since.
They have won just seven of their last 20 games, and they have been particularly vulnerable on the defensive end, where they rank just 23rd in defensive rating.
Missing the play-in tournament would represent a total embarrassment for the franchise while giving it an apprehensive and murky future.
Irving can become a free agent this summer, and it may be an open question as far as whether he will even stay in Dallas for the 2023-24 campaign.NEXT: Kendrick Perkins Has A Message For Mark Cuban This Offseason