In the NBA, talent usually prevails. There isn’t much you can do when the best player in the series is on your team, and then pretty much every other good player in the series is on the other team. Today, it was obvious. Luka Doncic needs more help. The Mavericks lost Game 7 and their first round series with the Clippers.
The game was relatively back-and-forth for the first 30-ish minutes. Then, the Clippers pulled away thanks to tenacious rebounding, some fatigue from Luka, and lots of buckets.
Watching the fourth quarter felt like waiting for a bomb to go off. The timer was ticking and there was nothing anyone could do. Granted, the Mavs got some stops and a Luka deep three to close the gap to seven points, but then Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. stomped on our throats and that was that.
Here are three numbers you should know from the loss.
6: First-half offensive rebounds by Dorian Finney-Smith
Let’s talk about something positive. The game would’ve been over a lot earlier than it was if it wasn’t for Dorian Finney-Smith.
Finney-Smith absolutely brought the heat in the first half, hauling in a massive (and necessary) six offensive boards. Largely thanks to him, the Mavs had a 17-3 advantage in second-chance points heading into the break. Those second-chance points made up for a stark difference in 3-point shooting (more on this soon).
Finney-Smith had his struggles this series (and this whole season for that matter), but he was crucial today. In addition to his 10 total rebounds, he scored 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from deep. That’s the version of Finney-Smith Dallas needed all series.
20: 3-pointers made by the Clippers
The big difference in this game was 3-point shooting. The Mavs were horrible from behind the line, and the Clippers were dead-eye shooters.
Dallas connected on 10 of their 36 attempts (27.8%) while the Clippers poured in 20 of their 43 attempts (46.5%). In today’s NBA, it’s nearly impossible to win when you shoot the ball that poorly and defend the opposing 3-point line that poorly. When you add in the fact that the Clippers are simply the more talented team, the game is a wrap.
Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, and Josh Richardson — four guys who are supposed to space the floor for Luka — shot a combined 1-of-17 from 3-point range. It’s impossible to win like that.
60: Luka’s total points and assists
If there’s one thing to be excited about for Mavericks fans, it’s that Luka Doncic will be on the team at the start of next season, hopefully with a better supporting cast around him.
The man was simply fantastic during this whole series, and he capped it all off in Game 7 with a masterpiece, notching 46 points on 17-of-30 shooting from the field and 5-of-11 shooting from 3-point range, while dishing out 14 assists.
Getting 46 and 14 from a 22-year-old in a Game 7 on the road against two of the best perimeter defenders of the last 10 years is, um... very good — and something to build on.
As disappointing as the ending to this season is for Mavs fans, there’s a lot to be happy about going forward. We have a 22-year-old superstar who is arguably already one of the best three players in the world. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Here’s to hoping the guys around Luka next year are just a smidge better. Sigh.
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.