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Luka Doncic Joins Five Other Mavericks in COVID Protocols 

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Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Image from Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

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The number of players in COVID protocols for the Dallas Mavericks continues to grow. Over the span of five days, the team has seen six of the fifteen players on its roster enter COVID protocols.

On Wednesday, guards Luka Doncic and Trey Burke were added to the list of Mavericks in COVID protocols, joining Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber. They all missed Tuesday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Two assistant coaches, Darrell Armstrong and Jared Dudley, are also on the COVID protocol list.

According to NBA rules, players enter COVID protocols after testing positive for the virus or returning an inconclusive test. Any player who tests positive is not allowed to participate in team activities for a minimum of ten days or until the player returns two negative tests with a 24-hour window between the two negatives.

All six players will miss the Mavericks’ Thursday night home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee will also be without their all-star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who himself was placed on the COVID protocol list this week.

The six Dallas players’ availability is also in doubt for the team’s Christmas night road matchup against the Utah Jazz. Christmas day is a marquee day for the NBA when it usually schedules national TV games that span the entire day.

Doncic has missed five consecutive games due to an ankle injury. Before Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves, coach Jason Kidd was hopeful that Doncic would return for Thursday’s game.

“The first thing is his ankle, working on that, and then his conditioning,” Kidd said. “But with the way things are right now, with very little practice time, you know, he’s doing the best that he can. Hopefully, we get him back for Thursday. So that means things are going well.”

Instead, Doncic’s streak of missed games will extend to at least six and likely longer. His continued absence comes at an inconvenient time for Dallas. The team’s record sits at 15-15, good for eighth place in the Western Conference. Their Christmas night road game against the Jazz starts a streak of five consecutive road games over nine days.

Doncic is averaging 25.6 points, 8.5 assists, and 8.0 rebounds. The team’s success is tied to his availability. He played in the team’s first 13 games, and the Mavericks held a 9-4 record. Since then, Doncic has missed nine of the last 17 games, and Dallas has gone 6-11 in that span.

The Mavericks are not the only NBA team dealing with various players in COVID protocols. There were 96 players from 22 teams on the COVID list through Wednesday. Because of the high number of players in COVID protocols, the league has had to postpone seven games this week and create a new rule.

The NBA and its player’s union agreed to allow teams to sign a temporary replacement for each player who tests positive for the virus, without counting against the team’s salary cap.

Dallas signed Marquese Chriss and Theo Pinson before Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves, and both played a role in the win. Since that game, the team has signed George King, Charlie Brown Jr., Carlik Jones, and Brandon Knight as replacement players.

The NBA has previously said 97% of players are fully vaccinated, and around 60% have received boosters. Close to 99.8% of those under age 65 who contract COVID-19 survive the virus, according to Statnews.com.

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