Looking for their second win in Orlando, the Mavericks tipped off with the Clippers in a potential first round playoff preview. Boban Marjanovic got the starting nod with Seth Curry still on the shelf, and the Clippers promptly attacked him in the half-court set. The Clippers took an 18-11 lead on a Paul George triple, but the Mavericks were able to claw back thanks to Dorian Finney-Smith’s seven consecutive points. After one the Clippers held a 23-22 lead.
The Mavericks were able to keep pace in the second quarter receiving quality minutes from Justin Jackson while connecting on seven three pointers while the Clippers cashed in four. The teams traded blows throughout the quarter, Dallas was two Doncic missed free throws away from taking a one-point lead into the half. Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 17 points, but the Mavericks had the play of the first half on this Doncic dime to Kristaps Porzingis.
As has been the case in lot of games, the Mavericks came out flat allowing the Clippers to go on a 11-2 run. Ivica Zubac tormented the Mavericks (19 points and 11 rebounds in 19 minutes midway through the third) collecting easy buckets and offensive rebounds while Paul George went to work in isolation to push the Clippers to a sizable lead. With Leonard and George on the bench and the Mavericks in the bonus for several minutes, Dallas was able to keep within arms reach on a 7-2 run, down only 91-87 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was a whirlwind in the opening minutes, but the Mavericks pushed the pace on a Porzingis 9-point flurry while Doncic rested on the bench trimming the Clippers lead to one with 7:30 remaining. However, the Clippers responded with a 11-3 run out of the timeout and never really looked back.
Los Angeles went on to outscore Dallas by 14 points after the lead shrunk to one point knocking the Mavericks out with timely Leonard jumpers and transition threes as the Mavericks tried to chuck their way from deep back into the game. Led by Leonards’ 29 points, George’s 25 points and Zubac’s 21 points, the Clippers put the Mavericks away 126-111.
Here are two things that stood out to me in the loss:
Porzingis continues to shine
With 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Porzingis continued his excellent play in the four restart games. While connecting on nine of his 19 field goal attempts, including 3-of-7 from three and a perfect 9-of-9 from the line, Porzingis recorded his third 30-point game, with the lone sub-30 game occurring in the game he fouled out.
In the fourth quarter, Porzingis went on a personal 7-0 run to bring the Mavericks within one forcing a Clipper timeout. Head coach Rick Carlisle subbed him out and the Clippers never looked back. Questionable substitution aside Porzingis is becoming instrumental in the Mavericks success.
The Mavericks aren’t built to compete with the Clippers
Look no further than Zubac’s 21 points and 15 rebounds on a perfect 10-of-10 from the floor. Hanging around the basket, being spoon fed buckets and gobbling up offensive rebounds, Zubac bullied the Mavericks all night.
Even further, the Mavericks simply don’t have the wing depth to stand up to the Clippers. Guarding Leonard and George with Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a mismatch every day of the week. Finney-Smith lacks the strength to body those all-NBA wings for an entire game, and Hardaway frankly isn’t good enough on the defensive end. The problem compounds itself on the other end with Doncic being swarmed by two lockdown defenders seemingly every minute of the game.
This game ended up being a 15-point win for the Clippers, and they didn’t even have Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell. With Lou Williams and Harrell spearheading a dynamic bench unit, the Mavericks are essentially playing a very small seven man rotation because Justin Jackson and Delon Wright offer very little off the bench. The Clippers got an additional 16 points from Marcus Morris and 10 from JaMychal Green whereas the Mavericks failed to get much of anything outside of their two stars. Trey Burke and Hardaway combined to go 2-of-15 from three.
It looks like these two teams are destined to face each other in the first round, and it’s not going to be fun for the Mavericks.
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.