For the first time since 2016, the Dallas Mavericks are in the playoffs.
They clinched their spot nearly two weeks ago when the Grizzlies lost their game against the Spurs, putting the seventh seed out of reach. But as of Wednesday night, after the Denver Nuggets lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, we now know who their opponent will be. The Clippers are the opponent Mavericks fans have spent months hoping were avoidable, but are now solidified as the match-up.
In the franchise’s 40-year history, Dallas has faced every other Western Conference team throughout the playoffs besides the Clippers. Now, that will change.
This will be the first playoff experience for second year player Luka Doncic and fifth year player Kristaps Porzingis. Despite having only played 47 games together, the duo has managed to lead their team to the playoffs and a record of 43-31. While many fans have been fearing facing the Clippers, Doc Rivers didn’t seem to think lightly of the Mavericks. “I look at that and that’s a tough match-up in the first round. That’s what it is,” he said when asked by Brad Townsend about his impending playoff match-up.
Here for Mavs readers, had to ask Doc Rivers right away about facing Mavs in 1st round. pic.twitter.com/YffFBptlck— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) August 13, 2020
The Mavericks aren’t the only team adjusting to two new stars. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have only played 37 games together this season, but when they have, it’s been deadly. The duo has a record of 27-10 in the games they’ve played together, and own a NET rating of 13.2. As two of the best wings in the league, they have exploited a weakness of the Mavericks this season. In the two games they’ve played against Dallas this season, George and Leonard have a NET rating of 29.5, the sixth best of two-man lineups that have played more than 50 minutes against the Mavericks.
But don’t write off the Mavericks just yet. Luka Doncic has proven to be one of the most explosive scorers in the league at only 21. Kristaps Porzingis has been red-hot in the bubble thus far, averaging 11.5 points more than he did in the regular season. They have plenty of key role players who have proven to contribute when they need it the most. Head coach Rick Carlisle has championship experience. Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the match-up, one thing is certain: this will be great experience for the Mavericks and should prove to be very valuable in the future.
You can find some of Clippers content from the past few weeks linked below. Make sure to keep coming back to the site as we will have plenty of pre-playoff reading for you to enjoy!