The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 127-121 on Tuesday night, taking a commanding 2-0 series lead in this first round matchup of the NBA playoffs. The Mavericks came out aggressive for the second straight game, and it paid off in the end. Starting slow has been a problem for Dallas all year, but so far it’s been a habit left in the regular season.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 39 points, adding seven rebounds and seven assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. poured in 28, and Kristaps Porzingis scored 20 points and had two blocks. Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 41 points, and Paul George chipped in 28 for the Clippers.
The teams head to Dallas on Friday, where a near-capacity crowd awaits at the American Airlines Center. As for this game, here are three observations from a Mavericks win that gives them control over the series:
Dallas played Leonard and George one on one all game.
The Clippers’ two superstars ended up with eye-popping numbers, but it looked like it was by design. The Mavericks never sent a double team at Leonard or George, instead playing them straight up all game. Dallas focused on limiting the Clippers’ role players and let Leonard and George score on tough shots over and over again. Between orchestrating the offense and defending Doncic,
Leonard ran out of gas late in the game, and Rick Carlisle’s gamble paid off. Reggie Jackson was the only other Clipper who scored in double digits, posting 15 points.
The Mavericks’ role players showed up again.
Maxi Kleber scored 13 points and played great defense on Leonard. Jalen Brunson and Josh Richardson both put up nine points, with Richardson hitting key free throws down the stretch. Even Willie Cauley-Stein made some plays in the paint and scored six points and grabbed six rebounds.
But the most important contribution came from Hardaway. His 28 points came on 6-of-8 shooting from behind the arc. It seemed like every time the Mavericks needed a big bucket, Hardaway delivered. If he keeps playing like this, Hardaway won’t be considered a role player for very long. This is All-Star level stuff from the Mavericks best shooter.
3-point shooting has been the difference in both games.
In Game 1, the Mavericks shot 47 percent from deep, while the Clippers only shot 27 percent. Los Angeles improved in Game 2, shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers. But Dallas stepped up their shooting as well, converting 52 percent of their shots from deep. They’ve outscored the Clippers by 33 on 3-pointers in two games decided by a total 16 points.
Both teams are built around shooting a lot of 3-pointers, and whichever one hits their deep shots will probably win. It sounds too simple, but it’s honestly what separates them right now. Hopefully the Mavericks continue their hot shooting for the next 10 days.
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.