Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel has missed the past two games with a sore left knee, but doesn’t know if the injury will keep him out of Monday’s game at Toronto.
Noel sat out Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets and Saturday’s game against the Phoenix Suns while dealing with the injury that cropped up in Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs have listed Noel as day-to-day.
“I can do more today than I did yesterday, so that’s a good thing,” Noel said Saturday. “I expect it to be even better tomorrow.
“I think tomorrow will be a deciding factor on the (Toronto game). If it feels significantly better, then I’ll definitely play.”
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Noel said there is some swelling in his knee that he’s having to deal with.
“Just a little bit,” Noel said. “But once the swelling goes down then I’ll be just fine.”
So how did Noel’s injury occur?
“As far as I know it was something residually off of the Laker game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s doing better.
“We’re hoping he can play Monday. He’s made progress each day, so he will definitely travel.”
Noel said nothing in particular happened in the game against the Lakers that caused his knee to swell.
“It just naturally came about,” Noel said. “I had this one time last year. It hasn’t happened since last year, so it’s nothing at all.”
The Mavs acquired Noel in a traded with the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 23. Since joining the Mavs, Noel has averaged 10 points and 8.7 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game.
The game in Toronto starts a four-game road trip for the Mavs. They also play at Washington on Wednesday, at Philadelphia on Friday and at Brooklyn on March 19.
Injury or not, Noel certainly has the game against the Sixers circled on his calendar. Asked if he’s going to miss that game, he said: “(Expletive) no, I’m not going to. There’s no way I’m missing that.”
Noel, however, would like to be on the court before then.
“It’s a little too early, but I’m definitely looking forward to it because the progress I’ve made from the last couple of days has been significant,” Noel said. “I’m young, I feel better every day and I’ll just take it from there.”
Suns coach praises Mavs’ Barea
Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson praised Mavs guard J.J. Barea before Saturday’s game.
“J.J.’s always going to pick up full court, find a way to mix it up, get the crowd involved,” Watson said. “He’s one of my favorite players in the NBA from playing against him.
“Big-time scorer, can shoot the ball. He has a toughness, has an edge.”
Watson also gave kudos to the Mavs’ front office for putting together a young starting backcourt of 23-year-old Yogi Ferrell and 26-year-old Seth Curry.
Watson said: “With the two young backcourt members (Curry and Ferrell), it’s good to have that vet with (Barea) and Devin Harris coming off the bench.”