Luka Doncic out for Game 3 in Utah, expected to return for Game 4

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The Dallas Mavericks earned a split in the first two games against Utah despite their Mr. Everything Luka Doncic sitting out with a strained calf.

Now comes word Doncic is out for Game 3 as well as the series shifts to Salt Lake City Thursday night, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. However, Doncic is expected to make his return in Game 4, reports Marc Stein.

This is a real opportunity for the Jazz to grab a 2-1 series lead — and there is a real pressure to do so.

Starting Saturday the Mavericks will add back into their rotation an MVP-level player, a guy who averaged 28.4 points and 8.7 assists a game this season, and is the league’s best pick-and-roll ball handler. On top of that, they become a much more difficult matchup for the Jazz. If Utah drops Game 3 at home and is down 2-1 when Doncic returns, a comeback will be too big an ask for Jazz.

Utah has not responded well to pressure this season, but they need to change that narrative and get a big night from Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Dallas feels like it is playing with house money after Jalen Brunson went off for 41 points in Game 2.

Game 3 will be wild in Utah, even with Doncic in street clothes.