Dereck Lively II gets health update ahead of game five of Western Conference Finals

Dallas Mavericks' forward Dereck Lively II has been upgraded to questionable ahead of game five of the Wester Conference Finals.
Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five
Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

One of the keys to the Dallas Mavericks' improbable run to the Western Conference Finals, Dereck Lively II has seen his medical prognosis updated. Fortunately for the Duke basketball alum, the update featured some good news.

The rookie who missed game four after sustaining a neck injury in game three against the Minnesota Timberwolves has been upgraded to questionable to play on Thursday night. That is according to multiple sources on social media.

Without Lively in the lineup on Tuesday night, Dallas struggled to a 105-100 loss, its first setback of the series. What's more, one of the players Lively may have been tasked with guarding was the key to Minnesota's win.

Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Townes had his best game of the series on Tuesday scoring 25 points and grabbing five boards. He was especially clutch from 3-point range after making 4-5 shots from beyond the arc, several of which came in clutch time when the game was in the balance.

It is no coincidence that Townes was able to dominate when Lively was out of commission. In the first three games of the series, he scored no more than 16 points in any game and shot no better than 30%. In game four, he shot a sizzling 69.2% from the floor.

As for Lively, he's been a spark plug for Dallas off the bench in the Western Conference Finals. He averaged 27 minutes per game in the series first two contests before being held to just nine minutes because of being kneed in the back of the neck in game three.

In those first two games, he put up nine points and 11 rebounds and 14 points and nine rebounds respectively. It has been the continuation of a surprisingly strong rookie campaign for a player who averaged only 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in his lone season at Duke.

Still, because of his athleticism and length, he was the No. 12 overall pick in last year's NBA Draft. What's more, as a rookie, he helped transform Dallas into an NBA title contender.

He averaged 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds while making 42 starts and appearing in 55 games. Along the way, he shot 74.4% from the floor and blocked 1.4 shots per game.

Now, he and trade deadline acquisition Daniel Gafford team together in the post to give the Mavericks a formidable pair of big men to go to battle with. Hopefully, Lively will be able to return to action on Thursday and if he does, he could help his Mavericks close out the T-Wolves and reach the NBA Finals.