While Luka Doncic put on an offensive show in Game 5, some of the most crucial plays of the game happened on the defensive end. As the Los Angeles Clippers cut into the Dallas Mavericks’ lead in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks were able to force the Clippers into several timely turnovers.
At the heart of all the action was Dorian Finney-Smith. Dallas’ 3-and-D specialist has not replicated his offensive output from Game 1, but he was active defensively, coming up with three steals and a block in the final frame of Game 5.
With 6:13 remaining, Paul George was driving on the right side and lost control of the ball. Finney-Smith was alert and snatched it up off the floor, giving the Mavericks a stop and an offensive opportunity. They failed to convert, however.
Minutes later, with the Mavericks holding onto a 95-89 lead, Finney-Smith was able to force Kawhi Leonard into a turnover. As Leonard got into the paint, Finney-Smith’s active hands were able to poke the ball free and Dallas was headed the other way.
While these plays were important to maintaining their slim lead, the best sequence of the game was yet to come. With 3:07 remaining, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s defense on George on the perimeter forced him to cough up the ball. It landed right in Finney-Smith’s hands. Down at the other end, Finney-Smith found Hardaway for three, giving the Mavericks a 98-91 cushion.
On the Clippers’ next possession, Finney-Smith blocked a George jumper from eight-feet out. Able to gather the block, Dallas advanced the ball and Doncic found Porzingis in the corner for three, putting the Mavericks up 101-91 with 2:13 to play.
Dallas would go on to ice the game with free throws by Hardaway and Josh Richardson for a 105-100 win. Were it not for the active defense by Finney-Smith in the closing minutes, the outcome could have swung in the Clippers’ favor.
“It wasn’t just me, man,” Doncic said. “It was the whole team—the energy. Doe-Doe was unbelievable.”