In the only series to go to seven games (as predicted in our series preview) in the NBA playoffs first round, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks. The series was all over the place – from no teams winning at home until game seven, superstar performances left and right, and role players stepping up. The Clippers advance while the Mavericks will have questions to answer this offseason.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks NBA Playoffs Recap
Kawhi Leonard the Robot
One could say Kawhi Leonard was developed in a lab to dominate the NBA landscape and it would seem realistic. Leonard, mostly quiet at times, lets his game do the talking and that happened once again in this series. He averaged 32.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.3 steals in the seven games. This also came on a 61-43-90 shooting split.
Game six was the epitome of how good Leonard is. The Clippers came to Dallas down two to three in the series and had to play in front of the Mavericks’ 18,000 fans, or the largest crowd in the league this season. With the game coming down to the wire in the fourth quarter, Leonard took over and drained shot after shot. He finished with 45 points and shot 72 percent from the field including 56 percent from deep.
Luka Doncic is Ready for a Championship
Leonard stood above the pack as the Clippers superstar. For Dallas, it was Luka Doncic. He averaged 35.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game. Doncic also shot 41 percent from three and had three 40+ point games. He did it all for the Mavericks and played stellar basketball, but it wasn’t enough as his teammates didn’t always show up.
What’s clear, however, is that Doncic is already ready to be the best player on a championship team. The Clippers are full of defensive stoppers, yet they still didn’t have an answer for Doncic. Leonard, widely known as one of the league’s defensive stars, even struggled to keep Doncic in check.
Some of his stat lines from this series are out of this world. In game three he scored 44 points to go along with nine rebounds and nine assists. In game five, Doncic scored 42 points, grabbed eight boards, and dished out 14 assists. The game seven loss definitely does not fall on Doncic’s shoulders, as he scored 46 points to go along with seven rebounds and 14 assists. The ascension is still coming, but Doncic is already one of the league’s superstars.
The Los Angeles Clippers Role Players
Paul George isn’t a role player, but rather a star. With that being said, he’s clearly second-fiddle to Leonard. After a horrible series versus Dallas in last year’s playoffs, George responded by averaging 23.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game.
Reggie Jackson also showed out as an unsung hero. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.1 assists while also hitting several timely and important shots.
Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum also played their roles very well and made up for the loss of Serge Ibaka. Terrence Mann even found his way into the rotation and provided scoring and energy, especially in game seven.
What’s Next for the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks
The Clippers begin their series versus the Utah Jazz this week. Utah is the number one seed in the Western Conference, so it will be a tough battle for the Clippers especially coming off a seven games series. With Leonard and George, the ceiling for this Clippers team remains very high.
Dallas heads to the offseason with questions to answer. Doncic is ready to win now, but the team around him perhaps is not. This mostly comes down to Kristaps Porzingis, who was a total non-factor in this series. He’s supposed to be Doncic’s co-star and is also the highest-paid Maverick, yet he seems to be in a clear decline. His future is likely up in the air. Dallas needs to focus on building the best team possible around Doncic this offseason as the Mavericks can be title contenders as soon as next season.
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