Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd figures to have to make two key game-time decisions before his club hosts the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in a critical game in the Western Conference playoff chase.
The Mavericks (36-36) and Warriors (37-36) enter their third and final meeting of the regular season straddling the play-in line, with Golden State currently sitting in sixth position and Dallas in seventh.
They were the other way around before the Warriors snapped an 11-game road losing streak with a 121-108 victory at Houston on Monday night, while the Mavericks were dropping a 112-108 decision at Memphis.
Also at stake Wednesday is the season-series tie-breaker, with each team having won on its home court earlier this season to begin the three-game set.
Dallas didn’t have Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving together for either of the earlier meetings, and it still might not this time around.
Doncic has missed the last five Mavericks games with a strained left thigh, although he has reportedly been getting closer to a return and has been designated as “questionable” for Wednesday’s game.
Irving sat out three games last week with pain in his right big toe, but has returned to put up 38 points in a road win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday before going for 28 in the Memphis loss.
Irving was seen in a walking boot after appearing to aggravate the injury in Monday’s game, but he cautioned not to read too much into it before a more thorough examination.
“I just got to make it back home to Dallas and then start my recovery work and do everything I can to prepare for the next game,” he said after Monday’s defeat. “Take time to rest and exhaust all my options possible to be ready to play the next game. Unfortunate, but just looking forward to the next 48 hours to see what I can do.”
Like Doncic, Irving is considered questionable for what would be his second head-to-head this season with Warriors star Stephen Curry.
Irving got the best of his rival in a January duel in San Francisco while with the Brooklyn Nets, leading the guests to a 120-116 win with 38 points.
Curry had 26 points in the loss, which, coincidentally, landed him at 23.8 points per game in his career in regular-season matchups with Irving, who also has averaged 23.8 points in those 17 games.
Curry had 30 points and Klay Thompson 29 in Houston on Monday, helping the Warriors win for the first time on a five-game trip that ends in Dallas.
Thompson noted after the victory that it could be used as a springboard for the Warriors to move up in the standings over the final nine games, the next four of which after leaving Dallas will be at home.
“It feels really good,” he said of the Houston win, “and we have a chance to do it again on Wednesday and really right the ship from this trip. It’s nice to snap an ugly streak like that.”