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Luka Doncic is playing through the pain

Doncic is clearly bothered by his neck injury.

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic is hurt. It became apparent in Game 3 that something wasn’t quite right with the Dallas Mavericks star. After the game he said that he was having issues with his neck and shoulder. The problem was so bad that the team listed him as questionable for Game 4 Sunday night.

Doncic was able to suit up Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but it was clear that he wasn’t at his best. Throughout the game, he could be seen wincing and bending over in apparent discomfort. He played through it, but turned his worst performance of the series—19 points, six rebounds, and six assists. It’s clear that his injury is more severe than he’s letting on.

“He’s in pain,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “It appeared to me that he couldn’t turn left, could look to his left, couldn’t turn his head to the left. That’s difficult for a guy that relies on peripheral vision and basically has played his whole life with his head on a swivel. We’ve got to hope in the next couple of days that he can get better — hopefully substantially better.

“There is a two-day break between games, which is a positive in this case. It’s a positive for both teams if you’ve got guys beat up and banged up, which I’m sure both teams do on some level. But his neck certainly contributed to a 9-for-24 night and him having some real unusual struggles.”

Doncic brushed off talk of his injury being a significant factor in his poor play. He simply said that he played terribly despite being 100 percent. That he’s as healthy as says looks like an exaggeration. He’s clearly bothered, but he’s going to continue treatment and prepare for Game 5.

“The pain is in my neck and with my nerves,” Doncic said. “I don’t really know how to explain that. It felt way better today and this morning than it did yesterday. I will just keep doing massages and icing it down and I will be ready for Wednesday.”

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.