Tonight was slated to be a big game. Two of the top five teams in the West playing on NBATV as the only game in the association for the night as well as Kristaps Porzingis’ return to the Dallas lineup, in which he understandably struggled.
For what it’s worth, the Clippers won a close game, 110-107, in which the Mavericks fumbled another clutch situation away. But, when a heartbreaking injury happens, in the grand scheme of things, whoever wins or loses the game just doesn’t really matter anymore. At least that’s how it feels.
With just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Dwight Powell took a step inside the three-point arch as he looked to drive toward the basket when he suddenly stopped and fell to the ground clearly in excruciating pain.
First thoughts? Crap, that was non-contact. And we all know what these non-contact injuries end up being.
Yeah, the worst ones.
A timeout was called as the entire Mavericks team surrounded Powell as he lay on the court. A clip of Powell telling trainer Casey Smith, Maxi Kleber, JJ Barea, and Luka Doncic surfaced what happened as his three teammates emotions and reactions said it all.
Dwight was then helped off the floor and into the locker room, and shortly ruled out for the rest of the game with a right Achilles injury, which is feared to be severe, according to Rick Carlisle.
“He’s one of the soldiers of the franchise,” Carlisle said of Powell. “If the news ends up being the worst news, we’ve seen how Barea recovered and he’s played beautifully. Dwight will get back.”
As Carlisle said, JJ Barea has come back this season and is playing well, when he plays, after tearing his Achilles last season. Casey Smith and the Mavericks training staff, known for being one of the best in the league, are more than well equipped to handle Powell’s injury and get him back stronger than ever, which Barea voiced to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
J.J. Barea, who battled back from a torn Achilles suffered last season, has no doubt that Dwight Powell will do the same. "Nobody better or mentally stronger to come back from this than him," Barea told ESPN. "Nobody has ever and will ever work as hard as he is going to do."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 22, 2020
This Achilles injury will almost certainly end Powell’s season and you can only hope won’t hinder his game as a whole going forward throughout his career, but Achilles injuries are just about the toughest to come back from.
Dwight’s game and skill set rests on his athletic ability. His springy bounce, quick reflexes, lateral movements; it all goes back to his athleticism and his ability to move around the floor.
What the Mavericks lost tonight wasn’t just the game nor was it Powell’s presence as a player on the floor; it was more than that. His work ethic is second to none within this organization. While most players shower and head home after games, Powell is known to stick around to work out and watch film. That’s just who he is.
Dwight is a huge part of the culture within the locker room and the franchise as a whole and is quite frankly an exemplary human being.
“He’s a constant. He’s a constant team first guy. He’s a constant worker. He’s a constant everything,” Carlisle said. “Guys like him have defined the culture that we want here so it doesn’t get much tougher than this if it ends up being what we fear.”
Now, it’s not like he won’t be around as he rehabs his injury, but the team surely takes a blow without Powell in the lineup. The chemistry that he’s built with Luka in the pick-and-roll is not only tops on the team but he’s one of the best rollers in the league. The on-and-off splits with Powell on the floor with Luka vs off is certainly noteworthy.
Dwight has had plenty of skeptics over the years but over the last year and a half, he’s sure shut them up, becoming one of the most important role pieces on this roster around Luka and one of the best bargains in the entire league.
If we know one thing about Dwight Powell it’s how tirelessly he works. And this injury won’t change that.
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