The Dallas Mavericks fell in game five of their first round series with the Los Angeles Clippers, 154-111. Paul George remembered how to score the basketball and led all players with 35 points. Luka Doncic fell back to earth some, scoring 22 in defeat.
The Mavericks shot the ball well out of the gate, jumping to a nice lead on multiple made threes. The Clippers responded with a massive run, fueled by Dallas turnovers and crisp offense to take a commanding lead on a 32-6 run to finish up the quarter up 41-22. Things got out of hand quickly in the second, with the Dallas bench unit being ineffective and Los Angeles continuing to press offensively. The Mavericks kept trying to make sustained runs, but the Clippers were just better and took a 76-52 lead into the half.
The second half wasn’t much better. The Clippers pressed and Dallas had zero answer. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle got ejected for reasons that only Kane Fitzgerald knows (he’s the referee who tossed Kristaps Porzingis in game one). Los Angeles ran up the score by the end of the third, 111-86. Dallas conceded the fourth quarter and the benches played most of the final frame. The Dallas Mavericks fell 154-111
Now, some thoughts...
Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and the rest of the Los Angeles Clippers are, in fact, good
The team we watched tonight is the one we’d feared in all of our fretting for months and preview coverage. Line ups with defensive monsters and an unheralded offense capable of putting up a ton of points.
It was clear by the middle of the first quarter the Leonard did not come to mess around and Los Angeles kept the pressure on all night. The Clippers shot 22 of 35 from deep and 63 percent over all. They put their foot on the gas and did not let up.
If anything, this game should serve as a solid reminder to the Dallas front office that the team, as constructed, is not enough. Granted, the Mavericks have dealt with a ton of injuries this season, but I don’t think Jalen Brunson, Dwight Powell, or Courtney Lee would’ve been the difference against this show of force.
The Clippers stopped caring about the screener and it blew up the Dallas offense
A lot of analysts wondered if Los Angeles would pick up the fact that Luka Doncic struggles when a second man is sent at him on the screen. The Clippers finally picked up on the idea; instead of constantly switching and letting Luka Doncic dice their defense to shreds, LA hedged hard and the defenders rode Doncic down the lane. The help defense prevented easy passes to the roll man and it seemed passing lanes were clogged as well.
The end result was Luka taking a tough shot, dribbling all the way back out for a reset only to try again, or passes out that lacked their normal zip and placement because the Clippers recovered much better.
Without Kristaps as a viable pick and pop threat (Maxi Kleber hit two, but he’s still 3-20 from distance; the Clipper defense will likely let him shoot as often as he wants) or Dwight Powell as an effective, high flying rim-runner, Dallas just doesn’t have enough. Maxi and Boban Marjanovic do their best, but unless the Clippers made a mistake on coverage, Doncic had too hard of a time in the lane in game five. Perhaps Dallas will find a counter in game six, but Doncic looked perplexed or frustrated in ways we’ve rarely seen this season.
Luka Doncic and free throws
He’s 38 for 56 in the series. That is 68%. That is not good enough for a player who will live at the charity stripe for most of his career. He’ll figure it out, I’m confident of that, but it’s maddening to watch him miss this many free throws woefully short.
NBA referee Kane Fitzgerald woefully misunderstands his role
The Dallas Mavericks did not lose this game because of refereeing. Let me make that abundantly clear. They did not lose this game because of the refs.
However, that doesn’t mean the refs weren’t terrible, and it’s bad enough that I am dedicating an entire point to the men in striped shirts. And I hate being a “refs guy”. I got that crap out of my system in the 2000’s. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way.
Then you have a ref like Fitzgerald, who kicked Rick Carlisle out of the game after he messed up a call, allowing a challenge well after the 30 second time limit. This is the same referee who ruined the series in game one, tossing Porzingis in a situation where he did not have to. He called SIX technical fouls in a game that was largely out of reach for two thirds of the game. That’s a referee who either doesn’t have control of the game or wants to be in the spotlight. In this case, we got both.
And while we’re here, this crew who allowed a bullshit move like this to stand without a call. This is a dangerous and cheap shot by Marcus Morris Sr.
You don’t get the benefit of the doubt Marcus Morris. This is dirty. pic.twitter.com/EUxtKKtqlz— House Mavericks (@HouseMavericks) August 26, 2020
Here's the sideline view in slow motion of Marcus Morris stepping on Luka Doncic's shoe. #ClipperNation x #MFFL #WholeNewGame #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/iFMESvT1yU— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) August 26, 2020
Protect your star players from nonsense like this.
The Mavericks are back in action Thursday night on ESPN. Thank goodness those of us watching on national TV won’t have to hear Chris Webber’s blubbering for 3 hours.