Luka Doncic 'uncertain' for Game 3, source says, but Dallas Mavericks hopeful return is near

DALLAS -- Mavericks superstar guard Luka Doncic's recovery from a strained left calf has progressed to the point that there is legitimate hope he will be able to return as the team's first-round series with the Utah Jazz shifts to Salt Lake City this week, sources told ESPN.

One source told ESPN that Doncic's status for Thursday's Game 3 was "uncertain," saying the guard was "day to day." Another source said while there is hope that Doncic could return for Game 3, it is "not a sure thing."

The Mavericks were off Tuesday, but Doncic continued his rehabilitation work, which has included gradually ramping up basketball activities. How Doncic's calf responds to Tuesday's workout and Wednesday's practice, in which his participation is to be determined, will be critical to his chances to return this week.

Dallas evened the series with Monday's 110-104 home win, led by guard Jalen Brunson's career-high 41 points as Doncic enthusiastically cheered.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said before Monday's game that Doncic was "definitely going in the right direction."

"He's doing more each day. As I've said from the start, he's in a great place, I think, mentally. He's been happy, he's been joking, he's been himself," Kidd said. "... He's doing everything he can do up to this point, and hopefully he can play soon, but if he can't play, we've got to play without him."

Doncic suffered the calf strain during the Mavericks' regular-season finale April 10.

The average absence for a calf strain for NBA players this season has been 16 days, according to information compiled by InStreetClothes.com. Mavericks reserve guard Frank Ntilikina returned from a calf strain in 12 days earlier this season. Game 3 will be 11 days after Doncic was injured.

"I know he's dying to get out there soon, but he's got to take his time," Brunson said after Monday's win. "I know he's doing everything in his power to not let his team down, but he has to make the decision that's best for him. Not necessarily knowing where he is [in the recovery process], but I just know that he's a competitor and he wants to be out there. We're trying to hold it down for him."