Matinee basketball will be the only option for NBA Playoffs fans on Sunday with the Hawks and Sixers at 1 p.m. ET and then the deciding Game 7 between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers at 3:30 p.m. ET. The home team has not won yet in this series, so if that trend holds, the Mavericks will be on to the second round. If it doesn’t, the Clippers will move on.
The Clippers are favored by 6.5 points at MyBookie Sportsbook with a total of 211.5 for the Sunday afternoon matchup that will actually have a 12:30 p.m. PT tip-off, so it will be an early one for both teams. We’ll see if they struggle offensively out of the gate as a result.
This is the only first-round series still going and you wonder how the winner will do in the second round. Every series in the Eastern Conference was done by the end of the fifth game. Three of the four series in the Western Conference required a sixth game, but this is the only one to go seven.
Historically, the home team is 90-28 in Game 7 in the HHVVHV format. This is also just the second time ever that we’ve gotten to a Game 7 with the higher seed going 0-3 at home and 3-0 on the round. The home team lost Game 7 in that scenario as well.
Extra pressure on Luka Doncic was a big reason why the Mavericks came up short in Game 6. After taking 37 shots in Game 5 with 42 points and 14 assists, Doncic only took 24 shots in Game 6. He was more effective from the field going 11-of-24 at 46%, but he was less effective on three-pointers, coming up with just a 2-of-9 performance. He still had 11 assists and eight rebounds to go with his 29 points, but Dallas needed him to get much closer to the 42 that he had a couple nights prior.
As has been the problem throughout this series, the supporting cast simply has not been very good. Tim Hardaway Jr. was better with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but he didn’t have a single assist and only had one offensive rebound. Kristaps Porzingis was nowhere to be found again with just seven points in almost 31 minutes. The bench only contributed 15 points to the cause.
The Mavericks were actually 12-of-14 from the free throw line, including a 5-of-5 performance from Doncic, who is still only shooting 50% at the stripe this season. Doncic is shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three, but his 204 points nearly double anybody else on the team. Somebody else has to do something here in Game 3.
Los Angeles Clippers
After the Luka Doncic Game in Game 5, we got the Kawhi Leonard Game in Game 6. Leonard scored 45 points on 18-of-25 shooting and also willed his teammates to a much stronger defensive effort to extend the series to a win or go home game. Reggie Jackson has had a huge series for the Clippers and he had 25 points in the win.
Tyronn Lue depended heavily on his go-to guys in that game. The bench only contributed four points and only played about 36 minutes combined. It was all about the starting five and really all about Leonard, who took the game over, as we’ve seen star players do so many times before.
You do wonder about this quick turnaround for the Clippers, though. Every starter played well over 36 minutes in the game. There was no turning back, so the Clippers laid it all out there. Kawhi, especially, who played almost 42 minutes. Paul George played almost 46, though he was just 6-of-15 from the field, just 2-of-7 from three, and he missed four free throws. It would be nice if he plays better in Game 7.
Mavericks vs. Clippers Free Pick
Doncic vs. Leonard. Who do you like? And who do you like with the 6.5-point spread? The supporting casts for both teams have been disappointing at times, but Reggie Jackson has really given the Clippers a third scoring threat. Jackson has scored 45 of his 93 points in this series over the last two games while shooting 15-of-31 from the floor and 9-of-19 from three.
I think he’s the difference maker here, as the Clippers have three scorers, while the Mavericks only have two.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -6.5