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What Happened To Daniel Gafford? Mavs Star’s Painful Walk To Locker Room Strikes Fear in Dallas Camp

Published 04/23/2024, 10:57 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

After a disappointing loss, the Dallas Mavericks faced a huge blow, just minutes into Game 2. The Los Angeles Clippers won Game 1 effortlessly in the absence of Kawhi Leonard, leaving the Mavs with no other option other than leveling the series. However, the Mavs had a bad start to Game 2, losing their trusted center, Danial Gafford, in three minutes.

He walked off the floor to the locker room with a lower back injury. The recent reports revealed that the star is questionable to return for the rest of the game. The rookie, Dereck Lively II, replaced him on the floor and will be expected the play the entire stretch. Four minutes into the second quarter, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon revealed that Daniel Gafford would return to the game. Hopefully, the 25-year-old continued to play the entire game, unlike the Game 1 incident.

During his last outing, the star entered the locker room to tend his ankle, which created unrest among the Mavs fans. He rolled his ankle while trying to defend Paul George. He eventually returned to the floor but only managed to 14 minutes without seriously impacting the scoreboard, dropping 3 points with no rebounds and assists.

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Speaking about the Game 1, Daniel Gafford said, “I didn’t come ready to play. I have to be better.” The Clippers’ center Ivica Zubac had the better of him, dropping 20 points with 15 rebounds. Even tonight at Game 2, the Mavs’ center didn’t make much impact as he couldn’t open his account in the points column and recorded just 1 rebound until the first half.

USA Today via Reuters

A lot was expected out of Gafford in this series because of the side’s new look. In the three regular season games played between these two teams, the 25-year-old center didn’t lace up for the Mavs. And the Dallas side lost two of the games. It was because those games were played before the trade deadline before they roped him in from the Washington Wizards. So the Mavs could use him as a trump card if he remained fit throughout the series.

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Will the Mavs outlast the Clippers in Round 1?

It isn’t just Daniel Gafford who needs to step up his game, but the rest of the roster. In Game 1, Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic dropped 64 points together, meanwhile, the rest of the starting lineup dropped 14 points. The team will need solid contributions from PJ Washington, Derrick Jones Jr, Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., and many others.

On the other hand, the Clippers have four superstars: Paul George, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook. Three of them are still chasing their first ring. While going against a hungry team like the Clippers, Luka and Kyrie would require a combined effort from the rest of the team to defeat them in the series.

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However, Uncle Drew dropped a positive statement after Game 1. He said, “Going into the second half I think we really challenged them… It’s a war out there, metaphorically speaking… We are going against some Hall of Famers. I don’t even know if we even are favorites in this series and so we just have to pay attention to what we can control.” 

Will Kyrie Irving & Co. defy the odds and win the series against the Clippers? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by:

Shahul Hameed

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Shahul Hameed is a Senior NBA Writer at EssentiallySports. Armed with a Master's Degree in journalism from a distinguished institute, his journey into sports writing began during his college days, and since then, Shahul has been captivated not only by the remarkable consistency of Stephen Curry but also by the enduring legacy of LeBron James. He specializes in covering the live basketball action.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz