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Dereck Lively II injury update: Mavs center works out Thursday, still questionable for Game 5 vs. Wolves

Lively missed Game 4 with a neck sprain


  • May 30 2024
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 Dereck Lively II injury update: Mavs center works out Thursday, still questionable for Game 5 vs. Wolves
Dereck Lively II injury update: Mavs center works out Thursday, still questionable for Game 5 vs. Wolves
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Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II has been listed as questionable for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Lively missed Game 4 with a neck sprain, and it was obvious how much the Mavericks missed his presence in their 105-100 loss on Tuesday. 

Lively participated in the team's morning workout on Thursday. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Lively and reported that his playing status "won't be known until closer to game time."

Lively sustained a neck injury in the Mavericks' Game 3 win against the Timberwolves. It happened in the second quarter when Karl-Anthony Towns' knee collided with the back of Lively's head as he fell to the ground. He immediately began grabbing at his head and stayed on the ground for a long time. He was helped back to the locker room by teammates and was visibly shaken up from the collision.

Lively was first ruled questionable to return to that game, but then the Mavericks ruled him out for the duration of Game 3, and while they managed to get a win without their rookie big man, his absence was certainly felt in the Game 4 loss. Without Lively coming in off the bench, the Mavericks scrambled to try and find solutions to contend with Minnesota's obvious size advantage. They tried to give backup center Dwight Powell minutes, but he was quickly outmatched against both Rudy Gobert and Towns. Maxi Kleber did return to the lineup in Game 4 after missing a chunk of the playoffs with a shoulder injury, but he doesn't provide the same level of rim protection and energy as Lively does.

As a result, the Timberwolves were able to get pretty much whatever they wanted, as Anthony Edwards was able to attack the paint without Lively looming under the basket. It also created mismatch opportunities for the Wolves, where they forced Luka Doncic to guard Rudy Gobert at times, allowing the Frenchman to get easy buckets around the rim and get to the free-throw line. After the loss, Doncic spoke of Lively's importance to this Mavericks team.

"Yeah, he's a big piece to our defense and offense," Doncic said. "So we miss him a lot."

While it's a positive sign that Lively is listed as questionable for Game 5, he was also given the same status for Game 4 before being officially ruled out. We'll have to see if he's able to heal up enough to play a significant role on Thursday. If Game 4 was any indication, the Mavericks would certainly need him if they want to close out the Timberwolves and avoid extending this series any further.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league's biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.

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