Three games are on the docket for Friday night in the Association as the NBA Playoffs continue. Atlanta gets back to a more friendly place for Game 3. The Celtics look to get back into the series against Brooklyn. And, lastly, in the late game, the Los Angeles Clippers look to pick up the pieces and avoid falling behind 3-0 to the Mavericks as Luka Doncic and his teammates head back home to a loud and less-restricted American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
The Clippers are still favored by two points in this one at BetOnline Sportsbook, even though the Mavericks hold all the cards with a 2-0 series lead. The total on the game is 219. Both numbers are adjusted from the first two games of the series, as Los Angeles was -6 in Game 1 and -7 in Game 2, but it looks as though all that has really changed is the home court advantage element.
After 248 points were scored in Game 2, it only makes sense that the total was bumped up a bit.
Los Angeles Clippers
Where do we begin with the problems for the Los Angeles Clippers? The defensive end is the best place to start. The Mavericks shot 50% from the field in Game 1 and shot 47.2% from three-point range. Okay. It happens. That’s fine. The game was played to a fairly slow pace and Dallas had a good shooting performance with 31 points from Luka Doncic.
For the Clippers, a 44% shooting effort wasn’t good enough and neither was the 11-for-40 performance on threes. The Clippers took nearly half of their shots from beyond the arc, which is not what they did during the regular season. They almost panicked on offense. During the season, 40% of their shot attempts were from three. In Game 1, 40 of 84 were from there.
Fine. It was off performance, right? Get it back in Game 2 and get a split. Well, that didn’t happen either. The Clippers scored 73 points in the first half, but only 48 points in the second half. Dallas did even better offensively in the game, shooting 58.5% from the floor and 18-of-34 from three. The Mavericks even left 11 points on the free throw line going just 13-of-24 and still won 127-121.
Getting outscored 30-19 in the third quarter is pretty inexcusable as well. The Clippers fired Doc Rivers because he couldn’t get them over the hump in the playoffs. The game plan from Tyronn Lue hasn’t exactly been much better. Talent can take you a lot of places in the NBA, but in these first-round playoff series, it has a lot to do with cohesiveness, chemistry, and coaching.
It doesn’t help that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have scored 118 of the 224 points that the Clippers have. They can’t leave the floor, otherwise the offense bogs down. It’s not like these two logged huge minutes during the regular season. A lot of things need to change.
Are the Mavericks just hitting an insane number of shots or does this have more to do with the Clippers defense? Some of both seems like a fair answer. Tim Hardaway Jr. is 11-of-17 from three and it seems unlikely that he’ll continue at a 65% clip. The Mavericks are shooting 50% from three in the series. They only shot 36.2% from three during the regular season. Taking a lot of threes is what the Mavs do. They just haven’t made them at this rate.
On the flip side, Kawhi and PG are 8-of-28 from three. That will definitely dictate a series when the role players and the non-stars for each team are going to have varying contributions over the course of a series. The role players and others have been stronger contributors for the Mavericks, though. They have five players with at least 20 points. The Clippers have three and Nicolas Batum is right on 20.
As great as Dallas has been from the floor, a 66% mark at the free throw line looks to be playing with fire. The Mavericks have also lost the turnover battle in the series to this point. They’ve also been outworked on the offensive glass, though they’ve made so many shots that there haven’t been as many opportunities.
That remains the question in this series. If the Mavericks keep shooting the lights out, why would anything go differently? If they cannot, and they regress on their home floor, that would be how the Clippers get back into the series.
The Clippers shot 48.2% for the season and are right at 48.8% for this series. The Mavericks shot 47% and are at 54.4% in the series. Can they keep it going?
Clippers at Mavericks Free Pick
Conventional wisdom and logic would suggest that Dallas cannot keep this pace up. They were actually better shooting the basketball on the road this season than at home. The series is now in Dallas. Will a fuller barn and the Clippers’ porous defense allow Dallas to continue overperforming?
Personally, I’d say no. The Clippers have not made good adjustments in this series, but they’ve run into a buzz saw from the floor. That doesn’t seem like it can keep happening and now we’re getting a cheaper price on the Clippers.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -2