Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Expert medical analysis on Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic's cervical strain

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are one win away from advancing to the second round, but it won't be easy.

Not only is Dallas facing a tough opponent in the LA Clippers, but Doncic is also battling a neck injury - diagnosed as a cervical strain - that has plagued him for over half of the series.

After a rough outing in Game 4, Doncic bounced back to finish with 42 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds in a Game 5 victory while wearing kinesiotape on his left shoulder and neck area to combat the injury,

Still, Doncic appeared to experience some discomfort with the injury.

For more on the nature of his injury, we reached out to our medical expert, Dr. Michael S. George of the KSF Orthopaedic Center in Houston, Texas, who provided some helpful context surrounding the 22-year-old All-Star.

What is a cervical strain and what does it entail?

Luka Doncic suffered a cervical strain during the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the LA Clippers.

A cervical strain is an injury to the muscles or ligaments in the portion of the spine in the neck. The symptoms of a cervical strain depend on the severity of the injury to the soft tissues. Since the nerves that supply the upper extremity come from the cervical spine, inflammation in this area can cause nerve irritation, numbness and tingling.

More severe injuries can also involve the cervical discs, which can bulge and push on the nerves causing even more severe symptoms.

How do you treat this injury?

The goals of treatment for an athlete with a cervical strain are to decrease the inflammation and restore neck range of motion and flexibility with rest, physical therapy, medications and sometimes injections. Cervical strains are extremely common in athletes but the timing of this injury is unfortunate for Doncic as he will not have time to rest during the playoffs and will need to rely on extensive therapy.

Can this injury have a negative long-term impact?

In the long term, this episode would not be expected to cause any long lasting issues for him.


The Mavericks will look to earn their first series win since 2011 when they host the Clippers at 9:00 p.m. on TSN.

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