The Dallas Mavericks have wanted to partner Luka Doncic and Kemba Walker to see if they can form a dynamic duo.
When the Mavericks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday at Dallas, they might get the chance.
After signing with Dallas on Nov. 29, Walker finally made his debut in Saturday’s loss at Chicago, with eight points, five assists, two rebounds and a block in nearly 20 minutes.
“It felt great. I was just in the house a few weeks ago,” Walker said. “It just feels really good, really gratifying to be back.”
The Mavericks pursued Walker in the 2019 offseason, but the four-time All-Star opted to sign with Boston instead. Walker has bounced around since, struggling to stay healthy.
Before Saturday’s game, Walker hadn’t played since Feb. 16, his final game with the Knicks before being benched.
He was traded to the Pistons on draft night and was waived in October, clearing the way for his signing with Dallas.
The Mavericks were without Doncic, who was dealing with a right quadricep strain, against the Bulls. Doncic is listed as probable for Monday’s game.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd said he planned to have Doncic and Walker on the court together at some point soon.
“We’ll get a chance to see those two play together,” Kidd said. “We have a lot of basketball left here to play. When Luka comes back, hopefully we can get those two on the floor together.”
While Doncic is expected to return, Maxi Kleber is questionable after missing Saturday’s game with right foot soreness, while Josh Green will miss his second consecutive game with a right elbow sprain.
The Mavericks enter the opener of a three-game homestand having lost back-to-back games.
Monday’s game is the second of three meetings between the Thunder and Mavericks this season.
Oklahoma City won the first game 117-111 in overtime at Dallas on Oct. 29 despite Doncic’s 31-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist performance.
In that game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 38 points to lift the Thunder.
Gilgeous-Alexander attempted a season-low 13 field goals in Saturday’s loss at Cleveland, something Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault attributed to the differing ways defenses have approached his star guard of late.
“He’s been roasting the league for a month and a half now, and teams are gonna study, they’re gonna adjust, they’re gonna figure out the best game plan and then you have to counterpunch,” Daigneault said. “He has to counterpunch. We have to counterpunch. … We have to adapt and we have to continue to grow.”
The Cavaliers dictated the tempo Saturday, slowing down an Oklahoma City team that is fifth in the NBA in pace. The Mavericks are next-to-last in the league in pace, ahead of only Cleveland.
Monday’s game is the last of a season-long five-game road trip for the Thunder, who have dropped their last two after winning their previous two.
The Thunder’s Kenrich Williams will miss the game with a right knee sprain.
The last three meetings between the teams have been decided by six points or fewer, with two going into overtime.
–Field Level Media