The Dallas Mavericks are facing a must-win game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night, but they will have to do it without their star point guard Kyrie Irving and four other key players.
Irving, who was traded to the Mavericks from the Brooklyn Nets in February, has been ruled out for personal reasons. He has missed 15 games this season due to various issues, including his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19, which prevented him from playing in New York and California.
The Mavericks also announced that Luka Doncic (ankle), Kristaps Porzingis (knee), Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) and Jalen Brunson (illness) are out for Sunday’s game.
The five players combine for an average of 103.6 points per game, which is more than 70% of the team’s scoring.
The Mavericks are currently ninth in the Western Conference with a 38-40 record, one game behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. They need to win their last four games and hope that the Grizzlies lose at least two of their remaining three games to avoid the play-in tournament.
The Mavericks have been struggling lately, losing six of their last eight games. They have also been dealing with internal turmoil, as reports surfaced that Irving and Doncic have not been getting along well on and off the court.
Irving reportedly requested a trade shortly after joining the Mavericks, but the team was unable to find a suitable deal before the trade deadline.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said that the team is going through a “change” and that he is confident that they can overcome the adversity.
“We’re going through a change right now,” Carlisle said before Sunday’s game. “We’ve got some guys that are out for various reasons. We’ve got some guys that are stepping into bigger roles. We’ve got some young guys that are getting opportunities. And we’ve got to embrace this as an opportunity.”
Carlisle added that he is not worried about Irving’s personal situation and that he respects his decision.
“Kyrie is a great player and a great person,” Carlisle said. “He’s going through some things right now that are personal to him. I’m not going to get into any details about that. But I respect his decision and I support him 100%.”
The Mavericks will rely on their remaining players, such as Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and J.J. Redick, to step up and fill the void left by their missing stars.
They will also face a tough challenge from the Bulls, who are fighting for a play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls are led by Zach LaVine, who is averaging 27.4 points per game, and Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game since joining the team from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline.
The Mavericks and the Bulls have split their two previous meetings this season, with each team winning on the road. The Mavericks won 118-108 in Chicago on January 3, while the Bulls won 117-101 in Dallas on February 8.
Final Thoughts: Mavericks Face Uphill Battle Without Key Players
The Dallas Mavericks are in a tough spot heading into their must-win game against the Chicago Bulls.
The absence of Kyrie Irving and four other key players due to various reasons leaves the Mavericks with a depleted lineup, putting a significant amount of pressure on the remaining players to step up and deliver a win.
This is particularly concerning as the five missing players contribute to over 70% of the team’s scoring.
Moreover, the team’s recent struggles, both on and off the court, only add to the challenges they face in this critical game. Reports of conflicts between Irving and Doncic only add to the uncertainties surrounding the Mavericks and their ability to perform at a high level.
While coach Rick Carlisle is confident that the team can overcome the adversity and embrace the changes that come with the situation, it remains to be seen how the team will perform in light of the many obstacles they face.
The Mavericks will need to rely on their remaining players, particularly Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and J.J. Redick, to fill the void left by their missing stars.
The team’s performance will also be influenced by the tough challenge they face from the Bulls, who have been playing well and fighting for a playoff spot. The Mavericks will need to find ways to shut down Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, who have been leading the charge for the Bulls.
In the end, the Mavericks’ fate will likely depend on how well their remaining players perform and how effectively they can adapt to the changes brought about by the absence of their star players.
With only four games left in the regular season and a place in the play-in tournament at stake, the Mavericks cannot afford to slip up, making this game a crucial one for their playoff hopes.