There are plenty of reasons for Dallas Mavericks fans to be upset right now. The last few days have been absolutely brutal. In Game 3, the Mavs had a 19-point lead and looked like they were going to cruise to a sweep. I mean, why not? They shot the lights out in the first two games and looked to steal the soul of the Clippers in the first quarter of Game 3. But then, talent prevailed.
In the last two games, the Mavs’ shooting fell back to Earth, and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George performed at the level all Clippers fans envisioned prior to last season. It took them nearly two years, but they look like they found their confidence.
Not only have the Clippers’ two best players figured things out, but Luka Doncic is now playing through significant pain. In Game 4, TNT’s broadcast showed Luka wincing with pain approximately 14,398 times. He clearly isn’t right.
So why should Mavs fans keep the hope alive? Here are three reasons.
Obvious, but worth noting: The series is tied
It’s easy to look at the last two games and feel like this series is over, but if you told me a month ago that the Mavs would be tied 2-2 with the Clippers, I would’ve been ecstatic. The Clippers are one of the most talented teams in the league and lots of people had them as title favorites. The Mavs, on the other hand, had a relatively brutal season full of players performing below what they’re capable of due to injuries and a COVID outbreak.
Tied 2-2? I’ll take that any day of the week. It means the Mavs are guaranteed one more game in front of a raucous Dallas crowd.
The Clippers DNA still exists deep down
Yes, Leonard and George have been playing out of their minds lately, but they’re still the team that blew a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the bubble. Until the Clippers prove they can be resilient for extended periods of time, I won’t believe in their short stretches of brilliance.
The Clippers got the Mavs on a couple of poor shooting nights, Luka played through pain, and Los Angeles were hotter than fish grease. If George misses a few shots at home, will the Clipper crowd start to let him hear it? Will he really start to feel the pressure? Is Marcus Morris Sr. a guy the Clips can count on for three more games? How about Reggie Jackson?
If Luka’s neck heals up a little bit and he can start applying some pressure, the Clips might start to tighten up. That’s what the Mavs need. They need the Clippers to feel the pressure.
Being optimistic is more fun
There are two ways to watch the last two or three games of this series. You can either watch with a hopeful mindset, enjoying the fact that your favorite team has a puncher's chance at beating one of the most talented teams in the NBA, or you can get upset about every turnover, every missed shot, and focus on how the Mavs might blow a 2-0 lead.
I’ll never tell anyone how to support their favorite team. If the latter sounds more fun to you, then by all means, go for it! But watching with a joyful eye sounds more fun to me.
The Mavs have one of the most fun young stars the league has ever seen in Luka Doncic, and Luka plays with an unmatched joy, so I might as well consume the content with that same joy. If the Mavs lose, it’ll suck (like really, really suck), but they’ll have given us a competitive series and a few-day stretch where fans (like myself) were speculating about making the Western Conference Finals. Regardless of the outcome, the playoffs have already been fun, especially considering how the regular season went.
It all might be over soon, so might as well enjoy it while you can!