The first playoff game of the Luka Doncic Era is over, and it sure was a roller coaster. Horrible officiating, missed opportunities, and a team with few weaknesses was a combination that let the Clippers escape with a Game One victory. An 18-2 run by Los Angeles to open the game made the playoff series look daunting, but the numbers the Mavericks put up after that proved they’re more competitive in this series than anyone could’ve thought.
49-39: The scoring advantage by the Clippers after Kristaps Porzingis’ ejection
Porzingis’ ejection was horrible for many, many reasons. It gained the attention of nearly everyone, including Dirk Nowitizki. But the loss of Porzingis did more than stir up social media attention, it left a big gap in both the Mavericks’ offense and defense.
10 points might not seem like a huge differential, but every bucket counted in this game. Especially when the Mavericks only scored 13 in the third quarter, all but two of those coming from Doncic. The Clippers scored 20 of their 46 points in the paint in the second half thanks to the lack of rim protection. They also managed to grab eight of their 11 total offensive rebounds in the second half. Again, not Porzingis’s fault that he was unavailable, but his absence hurt.
42: Luka Doncic’s Point Total
This is a performance from Doncic that we will all remember for a long time. He opened the game with five turnovers in six minutes, then clearly injured his ankle. It would’ve been understandable for him to disappear the rest of the night. But Doncic came back out of the locker room and didn’t just show up, but put up the largest playoff debut point total in NBA history. He had nine assists and seven rebounds to go along with his incredible 42 point game.
-19: Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith’s Plus/Minus
Kleber getting inserted into the starting lineup was both a surprise yet predictable. Kleber has played decent defense against Kawhi Leonard this season, and would be a much better match-up than Tim Hardaway Jr. So Coach Rick Carlisle decided to go more defense rather than offense, which didn’t exactly work.
It’s not to say that the move by Carlisle wasn’t a good one, but rather that when role players don’t make shots, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous position. Kleber and Finney-Smith were a combined 5-of-14 from the field tonight and scored only 12 points. They had an offensive rating of 73.5 tonight, by far the worst of any two-man lineup that played significant minutes. It will be interesting to see if Coach Carlisle is trusting the same players to have a better night Wednesday, or if he’s going to insert more offense into the starting lineup.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.