In a chippy series marred by ejections and seemingly dirty play, The Clippers finished off the Dallas Mavericks 4 games to 2 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The series came to and end Sunday night as the Clippers won the game 111-97 behind 33 points and 14 rebounds from Kawhi Leonard. Paul George and Ivica Zubac each scored 15 and Reggie Jackson added 14 off the bench. The Clippers move on to the Western Conference Semifinals where they await the winner of game 7 between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.
Despite another dazzling performance by Luka Doncic that saw the budding superstar pour in 38 points, grab 9 rebounds and dish out 9 assists, it wasn’t enough for the Dallas Mavericks. Playing without star big man Kristaps Porzingis, who was out with a torn meniscus, Doncic and the Mavericks kept it a lot closer than a lot of experts thought they would; even at one point tying the series at 2 games apiece. The series even saw one Clipper, Marcus Morris Sr, resort to what some would call dirty tactics to slow down Doncic, who was lighting up the Clippers all series long. In one game he was seen purposely stepping on Luka’s injured ankle and in game 6 Sunday he was ejected for hitting him in the face on a drive to the rim.
The series may very well have been Doncic’s coming out party; his star turn that saw him drop the first ever 40 point triple double in the playoffs. He looked for a while like he might just pull off the upset almost single-handedly, when his game winner in game 4 tied the series at two. In the end, Kawhi and the Clippers deep bench was just too much to handle for the Mavericks. For the series Kawhi averaged 33 points and 10 rebounds per game, and led the Clippers to two straight convincing wins to close out the Mavs.
The Los Angeles Clippers will need to get more out of the other half of their superstar tandem going forward, as Paul George endured one of the worst shooting slumps of his career throughout round one. He averaged 18.5 per game but shot just 35% from the field. If he rounds into form and Montrezl Harrell and the rest of the Clippers potent second unit continue to perform at a high level, it won’t be a surprise if they make a deep run in these playoffs. If they want to win the championship this year though, they are going to have to refrain from any more ejections and get more out of their second option. Kawhi is the reigning Finals MVP but going forward, they will need everyone to step up.
Photo Credit: Matthew Boyce GCSN
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