Dallas Mavericks center/power forward Christian Wood will miss multiple games with a fractured left thumb before being reevaluated next week, the team announced Thursday.
The injury happened during the second quarter of Dallas’ 130-122 loss against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Although Wood did not leave the game, he was clearly in pain at one point during the game, wincing while holding his thumb.
He continued to play and was on the court for virtually all of the fourth quarter, finishing with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks.
Wood is averaging 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, second on the team only to Luka Doncic in both categories.
The 27-year-old came off the bench to start the season before coach Jason Kidd inserted him into the starting lineup in mid-December. In 17 games as a starter this season, he has averaged 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds.
The Mavericks have been dealing for weeks with injuries to several key defensive players, and losing their second-leading scorer only adds to the turmoil.
Dallas is already missing center/power forward Maxi Kleber, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right hamstring suffered in mid-December. Kleber has begun light basketball activity and said he hopes to be back before the All-Star break, perhaps as soon as next week.
Without Wood and Kleber, coach Jason Kidd will have to rely more heavily on Dwight Powell and opening-night starter JaVale McGee who are the only remaining healthy big men on Dallas’ roster.
With the injury to Wood leaving Dallas with a shortage of big men, the team will probably turn to heavy usage of small ball.
Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie will have to shoulder even more of the load offensively, while there could be more opportunities for rookie guard Jaden Hardy to create, too.
Wood’s injury came on the night Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, two of the club’s top defensive players, returned from lengthy absences.
Finney-Smith missed 14 games with a right adductor strain, and Green was sidelined for 20 games with a right elbow sprain.
The Mavericks’ loss to the Hawks was the team’s sixth in eight games. Afterward, Kidd blasted the team for its defense, saying that it was “a shootaround” for the Hawks, who made 57% of their field goals.
Without Wood, Dallas must hope Finney-Smith and Green will help lift the team out of its defensive struggles and that Kleber returns sooner than later.
The 24-22 Mavericks will host the Miami Heat on Friday, Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, and the Washington Wizards next Tuesday before going on the road to play the Phoenix Suns next Thursday and the Utah Jazz next Sunday.