Be careful what you wish for. The Clippers lost back-to-back games to two of the worst teams in basketball to avoid the Lakers in the second round. Now they are about to get kicked out of the first round to a team that one ESPN analyst picked to go into the second round. How did this happen? Let’s Rewind that Tape to find out.
Defense. Defense wins championships. Common phrase throughout the basketball world that is used almost universally. Every team that we have seen win the chip has had some sort of defense that helps them get to the Finals or win it. Miami is one of the primary examples as they traversed through the 2020 Playoffs with a good defense. They were extremely phenomenal on that side of the court which led them to knock off some of the top teams in the east. Every team that has made a run has to have some sort of defense or do they? We know that the NBA is constantly changing and a lot of the old players will say it’s completely different. Does the modern game allow for an offensive shootout in the finals?
We are two games through the Dallas Mavs versus Los Angeles Clippers series. So far it’s safe to say that Dallas is dominated both occasions with a potent offense led by Luka Donic. It is crazy to say that little to no defense has been played, but it is what we have seen from these two teams so far. The Mavericks have had no stop to Kawhi Leonard while on the other side they have had no stop for Luka. The Mavs especially have had a lot of success with their other players in their starting 5.
From Kleber to Hardaway Jr, they have had all contributed throughout their time in this year’s playoffs. It is one of the main differences from this year to last year. The Mavs did have a lot of bench players step up throughout the series last year, but this just feels different for Dallas. In Game 1 Dallas had 23 out of the 113 points off the bench. In Game 2? They had 24 points out of 127 from the bench. To contrast 47 of the 127 points were on the Mavericks bench last year in game 2. Tim Hardaway has been the biggest contributor outside of Luka and KP. He scored 28 in game 2 and 21 in Game 1 which has been instrumental in both the wins. On the other side, Kawhi and PG have been leading the team. They wouldn’t have been game 1 at all if the bench didn’t help them out. The starting 5 for Dallas has been instrumental in game 1 compared to the other side.
The Mavs have shut down Marcus Morris in both games so far after he averaged 13.4 points per game in the regular season. In the postseason on the other hand he averages just above 6 points per game. Kawhi has certainly picked up the slack for the Clippers as he has scored nine more points in the postseason compared to the regular season. Ibaka and Batum have both also had decreases in their production in this series so far. Not to mention the Clippers are down 2-0. They are going to be in trouble if they don’t figure out a way to increase their offense or stop the Mavs on defense. The Mavs will also have almost full capacity in the playoffs. A loud American Airlines Center will certainly give the Mavs another upper hand. Game 3 is going to do or die for the Clippers. The only question remaining is whether this team will show up on defense.
Yesterday both teams shot over 50% from the field in game 2 of the series. They also both scored over 70 points in last night’s contest. The Clippers also shot 90% from the free-throw line while Dallas only shot 54% from the line. Dallas really could have closed this game a lot earlier if they made a few more free throws, especially down the stretch. It is clear that if the Clippers don’t figure out how to play some defense the Mavs are going to sweep them. At the end of the day, the Clippers wanted to avoid the Lakers which gave them Dallas. The Mavs also have not got the credit they deserved to have before this series even started. Dr. Cash and I have said this team was good enough to win this series in 6. After watching two games in this series I really think Dallas can sweep this series, but my prediction would have to be Mavs in 5.
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