The Good Guys:
· The Dallas Mavericks: 43 and 32; 1 and 1 in these playoffs.
The Bad Guys:
· The Los Angeles Clippers: 49 and 23; 1 and 1 in these playoffs.
Series mini recap:
· Game 1- Luka scored 42 points, KP got tossed for being a good teammate, and the Mavericks dug out of a huge hole only to fall short of a win.
· Game 2- Luka and Trey Burke, who has become far too important, scored efficiently and combined for 10 fouls. Boban and Seth gave a huge boost from the bench, and the Mavericks closed out a game that nobody was comfortable with until the final buzzer sounded.
One Extremely Hot Take for Game 3:
· Delon Wright will have 18 points and won’t dribble the ball on the baseline, NOT EVEN ONCE
Here’s a few things to keep an eye on:
Three Point Shooting
The best offense in the history of the NBA runs on three pointers. The presence of a huge, fearless gunner like Kristaps Porzingis gives Luka Doncic the space to fully utilize his Barry-Sanders-in-the-body-of-a-7/11-cashier moves. When Doncic gets into the lane—and remember he is doing this against a team of robot barracudas programmed to destroy him—he is able to kick out in any and every direction, sight lines be damned.
In Game 2 the sidekicks mostly delivered, with Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Seth Curry combining to shoot 9 of 18 from deep. The Mavericks overall shot 44.8 percent from three (and 50 percent overall), compared to 34.9 percent from three in Game 1. If the Mavericks shoot like they did on Wednesday, they are hard to beat.
Free Throws! FREE. THROWS! THEY ARE FREE.
This section is for the family in the Mavs Moneyball slack channel. The Mavericks are shooting 77.9 percent from the Free Throw line on the season, but BOY DO THEY SEEM TO LOVE TO MISS THEM WHEN THEY REALLY NEED THEM.
In Game 2 against the Clippers, a game that Dallas won by 13 points if you remember, the Mavericks missed 11 free throws. Luka, KP, Hardaway and Burke (all known as pretty solid shooters) combined to go 20 of 30 from the line. Unacceptable.
The most important players on this Dallas team have to shoot better than 2 out 3 from the foul line. The clutch offense issues that have plagued this team all season become significantly less pressing if they make their damn free throws.
Klaw and Playoff P
Kawhi Leonard, one of the best players alive, has watched Luka Doncic, a relative child, put up 70 points, 15 rebounds, and 16 assists through the first two games of this series. Leonard has spent time at the end of games hounding Luka but has spent the majority of his time throughout the games defending Dallas’ less dangerous offensive players and conserving his energy. With the series looking closer than the Clippers are comfortable with, will we see Kawhi guarding Luka from the outset?
As for Paul George, he’s had one very nice game and one very poor game in this series. George cursed himself forever with the ‘Playoff P’ moniker. Each time he has a game like he did on Wednesday, that name comes back to bite him. That being said, George is a great player and if he gets himself going he can light up quick. If George decides he wants to join Leonard in hounding Luka from the jump, Doncic might be in for a long night.
How to watch
The game tips at 8:00 PM Central and can be seen on TNT directly following 35 straight episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, presumably.