All eyes will be on Luka Doncic when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Doncic, the Mavericks’ superstar guard, did not play Sunday afternoon because of a sprained left thumb. His status is uncertain against the Bulls as Dallas aims for its fourth win in the past five games.
Doncic, 21, has turned heads ever since he entered the league last season. In his sophomore campaign, the Slovenia native is averaging 28.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 48 games.
If Dallas is forced to play without Doncic for a second consecutive game, it will turn to 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis to fill the void. Porzingis did exactly that Sunday as he had 38 points and 13 rebounds in a 111-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Just doing what I do,” Porzingis, 24, said to reporters. “I’m not really, like, inventing anything. These are all things I’m capable of doing on both ends of the floor.”
Chicago enters the game with a day of rest after its 125-115 defeat on the road against the New York Knicks on Saturday evening. It was the 10th loss in 11 games for Chicago, which has twice as many losses (40) as wins (20) this season.
Zach LaVine had a team-high 26 points for the Bulls and Coby White added 22 off the bench, but it wasn’t enough. The Bulls struggled on defense, allowing the Knicks to shoot 55.3 percent overall from the field.
Wendell Carter Jr. returned from a right ankle injury that had sidelined him for almost two months, but he was part of a unit that got outrebounded 50-33. He will look to play with more tenacity against Dallas.
“I’m not going to blame it on me not being 100 percent,” Carter said. “I wasn’t physical enough, and that’s just something I have to approach every game. I have to make sure my presence is felt on the physical side.”
That sets the table for an intriguing battle between Carter and Porzingis in the paint.
Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said Porzingis was a perfect fit at center in the Mavericks’ lineup. Porzingis also has played power forward in his career.
“This is a picture of what the future of the five position is going to look like,” Carlisle said to reporters. “It will be a guy with great length, can shoot long range, can drive it, can pass it, can protect the rim, can rebound, and knows how to play the game. You stack it all up, this guy is a great young player.”
This will be the second and final matchup of the regular season between the teams.
In the first meeting, Jan. 6 in Dallas, the Mavericks won 118-110. Doncic had a triple-double with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Dwight Powell contributed 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the field.
Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 26 points in the first matchup against the Mavericks, but since then, Markkanen has been sidelined by injury. LaVine scored 20 points and will look to lead the way this time.
–Field Level Media