Luka Doncic posted 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 16 assists, while Kristaps Porzingis turned in a 22-point, seven-rebound night, but it wasn’t enough as the Clippers had seven players score in double digits compared to the Mavericks’ three.
As a team, Los Angeles controlled the paint and outshot Dallas from deep displaying many of the attributes and characteristics that were missing in the Mavericks historic beatdown the first time around.
With the Mavericks jockeying for playoff position each game, a win against the Clippers would go along way with two games against the Portland Trail Blazers on deck.
With that, here’s what to watch for Wednesday night
Which team is more physical?
A primary tactic in the two team’s first-round matchup last playoffs, the Clippers resorted to tough-guy antics trying to intimidate the Mavericks both physically and mentally. Those efforts returned Monday, but in a much cleaner, more genuine way. With a trove of wings, the Clippers can play fast and aggressively on the defensive end, bothering Doncic with their length and speed.
Monday saw Los Angeles outrebound Dallas by 13 and score 14 more points in the paint. Led by Ivica Zubac’s 15 points (7-of-8 shooting) and 11 rebounds, the Clippers outmuscled the Mavericks from the jump.
The Mavericks should expect another grudge match Monday.
Dallas needs more from the starters
Too often does the box score reveal a glaring hole on the Mavericks roster. While Doncic and Porzingis combined for 47 points (outscoring Leonard and Paul George), the rest of the starters combined for 17 points while the Clippers’ other three starters combined for 41.
Josh Richardson scored six points Monday after scoring 20 and 27 the previous two games, so hopefully, this was just a blip. Dorian Finney-Smith has scored in double figures just twice in the last 10 games, while Kleber has achieved the feat three times in the last 10.
The Clippers have shot creators at four of the five starting positions which illuminates the fact the Mavericks have one bonafide shot creator, maybe two if you combine Richardson’s midrange game and the Porzingis’ willingness to shoot from the moon.
Whichever way you slice it, Dallas needs at least one (but probably two) additional players to provide a scoring punch alongside Doncic, Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Free throws and turnovers
I’m cherry-picking stats a little here, but the Mavericks are top-ten in free-throw attempts per game and top-five in turnovers committed, but Monday the team attempted only five free throws and coughed it up 15 times. Doncic, bothered by the Clippers’ defense turned the ball over seven times, so he must be better. Dallas can’t be in the business of giving the better team extra possessions and not getting attempts at the line. They can’t force the ref to blow the whistle, but they can play aggressive and physical.
How to watch
The game tips at 8:30 CT on ESPN.