Kyrie Irving among 5 Mavericks ruled out for must-win game


DALLAS — All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and four key Dallas Mavericks role players will sit out Friday night’s home game against the Chicago Bulls, a game the Mavs must win to avoid being eliminated from the play-in scenario.

The team announced late Friday morning that Irving (right foot injury recovery), shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness), small forward Josh Green (rest), and power forward/centers Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery) and Christian Wood (rest) would sit out against the Bulls, essentially for precautionary reasons.

Dallas (38-42) is tied with the Bulls for the 10th-best lottery odds and owes the New York Knicks a top-10 protected pick as the final payment for the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

The Mavericks must win Friday night and Sunday afternoon against the San Antonio Spurs, and the Oklahoma City Thunder must lose at home Sunday to the Memphis Grizzlies, for Dallas to qualify for the play-in as the Western Conference’s No. 10 seed.

All-Star guard Luka Doncic is listed as probable because of left thigh injury recovery. On Tuesday, Doncic publicly rejected the idea of sitting out down the stretch as a tanking measure to protect the Mavs’ lottery position.

“When there’s still a chance, I’m going to play,” Doncic said Tuesday when asked about sitting out down the stretch. “So that’s not going to happen yet.”

Mavs governor Mark Cuban, who paid a $600,000 fine in 2018 for publicly admitting the Mavs were tanking, said Wednesday night that “of course I understand” the thought process from fans that protecting the lottery position is Dallas’ smartest strategy down the stretch.

“The guys don’t want to do that,” Cuban said. “Players aren’t going to do that. Players don’t do that.”

Source : ESPN