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An analytical review of the Mavericks first round series against the Clippers

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The numbers that defined the series.

Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Mavericks first playoff series since 2016 was a whirlwind. Headlined by bad officiating, a Luka Doncic buzzer-beater, and the world uniting in their despise for Marcus Morris Sr., it was everything we had missed (and hated) about playoff basketball. All that said, it was a lot of fun. The Mavericks surprised us with their level of competitiveness at such a young age. The eye-test of this team, even beaten and bruised, was undoubtedly passed. Now, it’s time to dig into the numbers and see how this team performed.

Average margin of victory: 7.5 points

Average margin of defeat: 18.25 points

The Mavericks first win came in Game 2 with Doncic on the sideline thanks to foul trouble. With Kristaps Porzingis looking sharp and Paul George still stuck in his playoff rut, Dallas won by 13 points. Their second win was one none of us will ever forget. That of course was the Doncic buzzer-beater in Game 4, securing a two point win by his team.

The margin of defeat is misleading. The first two losses of the series were both eight point wins by the Clippers. As the Clippers pulled off a 43 point manhandling in Game 5, that average went way up. For the most part, the Mavericks looked really competitive in this series.

Series offensive rating: 112.1

Series defensive rating: 121.4

The Mavericks are coming off a season where they put up NBA’s best offensive rating of 115.9. Obviously that number fell as they faced an incredible defensive team, but the numbers are still really impressive. It’s a small sample size, but an offensive rating of 112.1 is still very impressive. For reference, the Houston Rockets had an offensive rating of 112.5 this season.

The Clippers 3P%: 40.4

The Mavericks 3P%: 36.0

40.4 percent from three-point range is incredibly efficient. It’s even more impressive when you realize that only two Clippers shot below 30 percent on 3PA. Remarkably, those two players were Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. If those two All-Stars would’ve shot their season averages during the series, the Clippers would’ve shot a blistering 47.38 percent from deep.

The Mavericks had a huge crutch due to a poor shooting performance from Maxi Kleber. Forced into the starting lineup with Kristaps Porzingis injured, he really struggled to make his jumpers. Hardaway Jr. also shot below the team’s average, sometimes shooting lights out, and sometimes disappearing.

Luka Doncic’s Stat Line: 31.0 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 8.7 assists per game

Doncic’s first playoff series was a historic one. He was the first player ever to average 30+ points per game, 8+ rebounds per game, and 8+ assists per game in a debut playoff series. He joined Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, and Micheal Jordan as the only players to average 31/9/8 in a playoff series since the merger. His 42 point performance in Game 1 was the highest scoring playoff debut ever. His 31.0 points per game average is the fifth highest in a debut playoff series. The numbers here for Doncic are just absurd. The future of the Dallas Mavericks is in great hands.

Kristaps Porzingis’s stat line: 23.7 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game

Porzingis only played in 93 of the Mavericks’ 293 minutes of playoff action this post-season, but he was incredible in the time he had. What impressed me the most amount Porzingis was his dead-eye accuracy. He shot 52.5 percent on 13.3 shots per game, second to only Seth Curry’s 58.5 percent of Mavericks who averaged more than 5 shots a game. He also made nine of his 17 three-point attempts, and 20 of his 23 free throws. Porzingis looked to be on his way to a remarkable first playoffs had it not been for a torn meniscus.

From NBA.com/Stats

Kawhi Leonard’s scoring average: 31.8 points per game

Leonard will finish as the third highest first round scorer, behind only the incredibly hot hands of Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell. That was while shooting only 29.4 percent from three. Joel Embiid and Paul George are the only two other players in the top-20 of total first round scoring to average less than 30 percent shooting on three-point attempts. He was able to maintain such a high scoring average with his incredible efficiency in the paint, while also consistently making mid-range jumpers.

Derived from NBA.com/Stats

Mavericks’ guards when defended by Paul George: 30.8 3P%

George may have been a complete no-show offensively, but he still made an impact on the defensive end. The two defensive assignments he saw the most outside of Luka Doncic were Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. When defended by George, Curry shot 3-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 on three-point attempts. Hardaway Jr. also struggled, making just 6-of-16 shots and making only 2-of-8 three-pointers. Feel free to give George all the grief possible because of his offensive struggles. But his defensive performance not only kept him on the court, it made him a difference-maker.