NBA: Dallas Mavericks Meet Los Angeles Clippers In Playoffs Again
The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers meet again in the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive year. If it is anything like last year, there will be a lot of drama.
Last year’s series saw a lot of trash talking, hard fouls, and a rivalry in the making as the Clippers won the series 4-2. Also there were multiple ejections including Kristaps Porzingis, Rick Carlisle, and Marcus Morris.
Porzingis was ejected in the third quarter of game one after picking up a questionable technical foul, which was his second of the game. In game five, the officials ejected Carlisle after picking up two technicals of his own. Early in game six Morris was ejected after a hard foul on Luka Doncic.
Same Teams, New Faces
This year’s series will likely have the same intensity but with a slightly different cast of characters. Free agency brought in some new players and injuries prevented some from playing in last year’s matchup.
The Clippers had eight players play over 100 minutes in last year’s series, but three of them won’t be a part of it this year. Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, and Montrezl Harrell all moved on to other teams. Those minutes will likely go to Rajon Rondo, Nicolas Batum, and Patrick Beverley who injured himself early in the series last year.
The Maverick’s rotation will be severely different, especially from the final couple of games. The only major departure in terms of minutes played is Seth Curry who was fifth last year against the Clippers.
Porzingis only played 94 minutes last year due to the ejection and a knee injury a few games later. Look for his minutes to be double that in this series.
Trey Burke was sixth on the team last year in minutes with 156. Burke will still be in the rotation but look for those minutes to be cut in half as he is the eight or ninth player off the bench.
Jalen Brunson and Dwight Powell are both back from injury and will be bonus additions to the rotation that were missing last year. Newcomer Josh Richardson will also play a large role, possibly off the bench, for the Mavericks. Dallas also traded for sharpshooter JJ Redick at the deadline as another option off the bench for Rick Carlisle.
Keys For Each Team
The Clippers championship hopes ride or die with Paul George. He did not have a very good postseason in the bubble last year and needs to live up to the “playoff P” nickname. They have a good supporting cast around him and Kawhi Leonard, but Leonard needs the star next to him to perform when it matters most.
The three point shooting of the Clippers will be critical. The Clippers rank in the middle of the pack in threes attempted per game but rank first in the NBA in three point percentage. If they go cold from deep, it could be a very long series because they are third to last in free throw attempts per game.
Maybe the most important factor, at least for this series, is the Clippers being physical and trying to bully the Mavericks. How the series is officiated determines the physicality level. But look for Morris and Beverley to be agitators especially when guarding Doncic.
For the Mavericks, they can’t let the Clippers physicality affect them or how it’s officiated affect them. They need to try and match some of that toughness and not let the Clippers get in their head. The Clippers will target Doncic over and over again and how he reacts will tell a lot.
Compared to the Clippers, the Mavericks are the opposite with their three point shooting. They rank sixth in attempts per game but are only 18th in percentage. In today’s NBA you have to be effective from the three point line and knock down shots.
The Mavericks also need to get off to a good start early in games. Their focus and energy will be crucial from the tip-off. Dallas is 27-0 this season when leading after the first quarter.
For both teams, turnovers will be crucial. Both are very good at taking care of the ball. Dallas ranks third in fewest turnovers per game while the Clippers rank seventh. The opponent gets extra possessions while your team wastes possessions. Sloppy play leads to easy points for the opponent and can make the difference in this series.
Both teams are looking to end a playoff drought. The Mavericks are looking for their first series win since they won the NBA title in 2011. The Clippers on the other hand are trying to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
There should be no love lost between these two clubs as they get ready to face off yet again. Game one is Saturday in Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. CST.
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