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Mavs-Nuggets preview: Dončić, Exum cleared to play; Green exit

Luka Dončić's status was clarified Sunday when coach Jason Kidd said the superstar point guard would be available against the Denver Nuggets.

Luka was dealing with left hamstring soreness, which caused him to miss Thursday's game at Oklahoma City.

The Mavericks also learned before the game that Dante Exum (right foot) would be available. But the news wasn't so good regarding Josh Green.

He will miss the Denver game and likely a few others because of a sprained right ankle suffered Thursday in Oklahoma City, coach Jason Kidd said.

“Long term,” Kidd said when asked about the timetable for Green’s return. “It will take a few weeks.”

In Green's absence, Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the Mavericks who can be counted on to pick up the slack, just like he did Thursday in Oklahoma City with 23 points.Tim

Hardaway said Saturday he was trying not to be hasty in declaring his crisis over. And to be honest, the eight games after the All-Star break weren't great. His 29.8 percent three-point shooting in that stretch wasn't good. But it wasn't disastrous either.

It just wasn't up to his usual standards. And in the four games since, he's shot 10 of 25 from beyond the arc (40%).

“Adversity hits, you try to get out of it,” Hardaway said. “I’m not trying to hurt myself. I want to organize some games first.

“That (his approach) doesn’t change. If that had changed, I wouldn't be here shooting. I would have just passed the ball, given open looks, not trying to be aggressive. Nothing has changed from this point of view. It's just that the shots were coming. My teammates have always had confidence in me since I have been here.

Hardaway made five of nine three-pointers Thursday. It was the second time in four games that he completed at least half of his long balls. And he made 17 three-pointers in those games.

TimAnd there's no doubt that a hot-shooting Hardaway will make a big difference for the Mavericks as they battle with Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers for position in the playoff tournament. in – plus the still realistic goal of placing in the top six and avoiding play-in altogether.

Hardaway knows the way to achieving that sizzle.

“Just keep taking good shots, not forcing the issue, but when you have the opportunity to be aggressive, take it,” he said. “Just be confident and persistent in everything you do on the field.”

Hardaway, by the way, wore his University of Michigan shorts during Saturday's practice. Having played for the Wolverines, he said he was saddened by the firing of Juwan Howard as coach.

“It was a tough time for Juwan — people weren’t going to school, recruits weren’t going,” Hardaway said. “Everything that could have happened happened. So it was a difficult situation for him. He did his best while he was there.

Here's what to watch for when the Nuggets visit on Sunday.

  • Nikola Jokic is probably the MVP favorite. His numbers are exceptional (26 points, 12.2 rebounds, 9.1 assists). While Luka, Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo are also in the running, it appears that's Jokic's reward – for now.
  • When asked what he sees when he watches the Nuggets, Hardaway responded: “A selfless ball club. That's all that needs to be said. They are unselfish, they play the right way. They defend. It's all about winning. » Indeed, all this is true. The Nuggets are third in the league in assists per game and also rank in the top 10 in total offensive and defensive ratings.
  • Jamal Murray (20.9 points per game), Michael Porter Jr. (16.7) and Aaron Gordon (13.8) all provide capable support behind Jokic.
  • The Nuggets have won five straight, including the first two of this four-game road trip that ends Tuesday at Minnesota.
  • The Mavericks had their four-game winning streak snapped Thursday at Oklahoma City in one of the most competitive games of the season. Kyrie Irving had 36 points in the loss.
  • Daniel Gafford saw his 33-game scoring streak come to an end in the opening moments of Thursday's game, but he's still on a hot streak, averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting an incredible 93, 2 percent over the last six games.
  • The Nuggets are favored by 3 1/2 points and the over/under is 226.5.

DENVER NUGGETS (47-20) at MAVERICKS (38-29)

  • When/where: 2:30 p.m., American Airlines Center, Dallas.
  • Television: ABC (channel 8).
  • Radio: 97.1 FM Le Freak; 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish).

X: @ESefko

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