August 30th 2020. The L.A. Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 111-97 to send Luka Dončić home from the Orlando bubble. The Mavs definitely gave the Clippers a run for their money, as they took them to 6 games and played their hearts out. That being said, the Clips were able to get this done with Paul George not being himself for majority of the series. That series was one of the most fun to watch in 2020, and guess what, we are getting a round 2 in 2021.
In game 1 of that series, the Mavs had the worst start possible going down 20 within the first few minutes of the first quarter. Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic started to warm up and eventually gained a double digit lead of their own, before it all went down in the third quarter. Marcus Morris made an unnecessary move on Luka Doncic, making Kristaps Porzingis mad, leading him to his 2nd tech, requiring ejection. After that, it seemed like Dallas was hopeless, but may we forget that then, the legend of Luka Doncic woke up.
BAAANG BAAANG ITS GOOD! The words of Hall of Famer Mike Breen in Game 4 as Doncic made one of the most incredible buzzer beaters to tie up the series at 2. At that point, we knew the Mavs weren’t going down without a fight, so the Clippers needed a lot from Kawhi and their bench. Ok, maybe not a whole lot, but they needed more than what they brought in the first couple of games. Montrezl Harrell started to get physical in the paint, and with the Unicorn being out from games 2-6, that helped Trezz a lot stay more comfortable. He was able to space the floor out and find his teammates for open looks. Players like Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet didn’t get enough credit in this series as I thought they should’ve, but that’s what the Clippers have been known for for a while. Their deep bench.
Players that they have lost this season are Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, and JaMychal Green. They gained Luke Kennard, Nik Batum, Boogie Cousins, and Rajon Rondo. From that perspective, it may look like they lost more talent, but the way that they have come together this year makes them more dangerous than the last. Not to mention, every time DeMarcus Cousins plays the Mavs, he looks like he did in his Sacramento days. That is one underrated X factor that the Clippers will want to have.
For the Mavs, they lost sharpshooter Seth Curry and Guard Delon Wright, but were able to gain J.J. Redick and Nico Melli. Another Maverick that the Clippers didn’t see much of that they will this series is the Unicorn himself. Kristaps Porzingis seems like the X Factor for Dallas this series, as it seems like whenever he is playing well on the court, the entire team is as well. Tim Hardaway Jr also ended the season strong, quickly becoming one of the better 6th men in the league. He is someone who the Clippers need to watch out for because when he’s hot, this team is way more dangerous.
But is Kristaps Porzingis dropping 25 a game enough for Dallas to win this series? I think it is enough, and I think it should be clear to most fans. Porzingis is the only 7 foot big man in this league that can stretch the floor, shoot the 3 ball, and is versatile. Ivica Zubac won’t be able to keep up with him up and down the floor, as he is much bigger and just can’t run fast enough because of his size. Porzingis has been around the arc for most of the year, so coach Ty Lue will need to plan accordingly. All in all, Kawhi and PG have flown under the radar this year because they haven’t played as many games together, but they are favorites to come out of the West for a reason. This series will be another thriller to watch, as long as both sides are able to stay healthy.
Who ya got?