Is Mavericks’ Dereck Lively II (Neck) Playing Tonight In Game 5 Against Timberwolves?

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Is Mavericks' Dereck Lively II (Neck) Playing Tonight In Game 5 Against Timberwolves?

Dallas Mavericks rookie center Dereck Lively II remains questionable for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 7-foot-1 big man tested his sprained neck on Thursday by participating in a 10-minute post-shootaround workout.

Dallas Mavericks’ Dereck Lively II (neck) is questionable for Game 5 at Minnesota Timberwolves

“I was definitely moving,” Lively told reporters when asked how the workout went while he was exiting Target Center. Lively, 20, suffered the injury early in the second quarter of Game 3, when he was kneed in the back of the head by Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Karl-Anthony Towns.

Lively did not enter the NBA’s concussion protocol despite a head injury being the main concern. The Philadelphia native had stiffness and soreness in his neck and back after the injury. Lively said he has regained full range of motion but is still experiencing a bit of soreness.

“We’re not going to call it pain; we’re going to call it discomfort,” Lively said. “But everything in my neck was locked up from right after I got hit, so it’s just been a lot of treatment, a lot of stretching, just a lot of just listening to what my body’s telling me.”

The Duke product sat out Dallas’ Game 4 loss on Tuesday. Judging by the team’s lack of rim protection, the Mavs need Lively back as soon as possible.

Minnesota outscored them 46-36 in the paint, and Dallas is 15-13 overall this season without the rookie. Lively has the Mavs’ best plus-minus in this series (+22) and for the entire postseason (+109).

“I really don’t know how much I can do,” Lively told reporters at the Target Center court before for his individual workout. “We’re just figuring out what I can do. Just trying to take it, see what’s going to bring up red flags and what’s not.”

Lively has yet to miss a shot in the Western Conference finals

In 55 games (42 starts) of the regular season, Lively averaged 8.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 23.5 minutes per game while shooting 74.7% from the field and 50.6% at the foul line. He also received a second-team All-Rookie selection.

Through three playoff games of the WCF, Lively has yet to miss a shot, scoring 29 points on 13-of-13 shooting and adding 23 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks in 63 minutes of action.

Lively wants to return to help his team advance to the NBA Finals, but he doesn’t want to get hurt again.

“I don’t want to go out there and get hurt again,” Lively said. “I don’t want to go out there and flare something up in my back or my neck. So what I’m going to do is just take it step by step.”

Mavs superstar Luka Doncic is also listed as questionable because of his sprained right knee and lingering ankle soreness. Doncic has been listed as questionable multiple times throughout Dallas’ playoff run, but he has played every game.

NBA sportsbooks show the Mavericks as 5-point underdogs at Minnesota ahead of Game 5. Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, Dallas still has a 50.6% chance of eliminating the Timberwolves.