Deron Williams’ status for his highly anticipated return to Brooklyn is in question after Tuesday night.
The Dallas Mavericks point guard strained his left hamstring in a 103-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors. He is listed by the Mavs as doubtful for Wednesday night’s meeting with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets.
“My hammy’s been tight the last couple of games. I came to the bench and told (head trainer Casey Smith) they were a little tighter than normal. As soon as I went back out there, I went to plant, push off, and I just felt a little pop,” Deron explained. “I hope I can play tomorrow. The last thing I want to do is miss this game tomorrow. It’s definitely frustrating.”
Deron had seven points, six assists and a couple of rebounds before he checked out in the third quarter at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto had a terrific start on its home floor, shooting 60 percent in the opening quarter to take a commanding 32-16 lead. From there, the Mavs were left to play catch-up.
“They just came out hitting first in the first quarter,” D-Will said. “They looked like they wanted the game a little more than us. They were active. They took us out of our offense. We couldn’t buy a basket, and our defense suffered because of that.”
Dallas found its way defensively in the second quarter. The Mavs scored 10 points off six Toronto turnovers. D-Will attacked the basket and earned three of his five second-quarter points on the free throw line, but his squad still faced a 49-36 deficit at the half.
Deron had the offense humming out of the break. He sent two assists out to Dirk Nowitzki and another down Zaza Pachulia. Dirk and Wes Matthews heated up from three-point range, hitting a combined five long-distance shots and tallying 19 points between them. Dallas had shaved the lead down to seven when D-Will checked out for good at the 5:29 mark.
In the fourth quarter, the reserves took their turn. With No. 8 out of commission, head coach Rick Carlisle emptied the bench. All eight reserves played and combined for 29 points in the fourth, cutting the Toronto lead down to just two with 11.6 seconds to go. But even though they couldn’t quite pull off the comeback, Deron was proud and impressed by the play of his teammates.
“It was great to watch those guys just go out there and play their hearts out,” D-Will said. “It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but I think that’s how we all need to approach the game, especially our starting group. We need to come out, we need to hit first, we need to be aggressive. We can’t wait for somebody to get hot or get into a rhythm. We have to go out there and kind of force that to happen.”
The Mavs (15-13) take on Deron’s former team, the Nets (8-20) on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center.
His return to Brooklyn was highlighted on calendars from New York to Texas, and Deron himself said that he’s going to do all he can to take the court for this game.
“I don’t want to miss a game period, but I also want to play going back to Brooklyn,” he said. “I definitely don’t want to miss this game.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and will air on FOX Sports Southwest.