The Los Angeles Clippers most popular to not face their crosstown rivals to open up the 2020-21 playoffs. Now they could not even get the chance to play in opposition to the Los Angeles Lakers in any respect.
The considered dealing with a rested LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t sit properly with the franchise, and so they finally selected to not win video games to shut out the common season. They misplaced three of their final 5 video games, together with the ultimate two to the lifeless Houston Rockets and Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.
By positioning themselves into the fourth seed within the West, they earned a date with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. After eliminating the Mavs within the playoffs final season, the Clippers felt snug heading into this first-round sequence. After shedding the primary two video games on their residence flooring, the panic button is now inside attain.
There have been 31 situations the place the house workforce has misplaced the primary two video games of a seven-game sequence. Solely 4 of them had been capable of come again and win the sequence.
Each video games had been high-scoring contests, as neither workforce was capable of get defensive stops down the stretch. Kawhi Leonard has been sensational on offense and Paul George has good however not nice. Whereas the two-headed monster has carried the offensive load for the Clippers, it’s their protection that has been notably absent on this sequence.
Doncic has been phenomenal in each side of the sport. He had a 31-point triple-double within the first recreation, then adopted that up with a 39-point effort in Recreation 2 the place he additionally pulled down seven rebounds and dished out seven assists. He additionally has two steals and three blocks via these first two video games. It has been a historic begin to his postseason profession.
Luka Dončić now has 256 factors, 76 rebounds and 70 assists in his first eight profession postseason video games.
Per @EliasSports, Dončić is the primary participant in @NBA historical past to document 250+ factors, 70+ rebounds and 70+ assists via a participant’s first 8 profession postseason video games. pic.twitter.com/Gb1HljeLlv
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) May 26, 2021
The scoring load has been properly balanced for Dallas, with Tim Hardaway Jr and Kristaps Porzingis additionally placing up strong scoring numbers. The well timed buckets and clutch three-point capturing have been essential to their success to date, however except Los Angeles addresses their defensive woes, it would solely proceed because the sequence shifts to Dallas.
Heading into Recreation 3 tonight, the Mavericks are capturing 50 % from three-point vary. As compared, the Clippers are hitting simply 32.9 % from deep however they’re making up for it on the free-throw line. Los Angeles has been one of many prime free throw capturing groups within the league this season, and it reveals as they’ve hit 82 % of their makes an attempt. In the meantime, Dallas has actually struggled in that space, capturing simply 66 % as a workforce from the charity stripe.
The Clippers have simply three gamers which are averaging double figures in scoring this sequence, with Leonard, George and Nicolas Batum. By comparability, the Mavericks have six gamers doing so, with Doncic, Hardaway Jr, Porzingis, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber. That is what makes Doncic so nice as an offensive weapon.
Whereas Doncic is clearly the top of the snake for the Mavericks’ offense, many have questioned why Ty Lue has not assigned both Leonard or George to cowl him for the whole thing of the sport. Lue acknowledged that the offensive load was so heavy for Leonard that he didn’t need to add that to his plate. Now he could not have a selection.
Leonard is a two-time Defensive Participant of the 12 months and George has been identified to be top-of-the-line lockdown perimeter defenders within the league for almost all of his profession. For some motive, the Clippers are eager on persevering with to change easy excessive ball screens. That leaves guys like Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris on an island with Doncic, which is lower than supreme.
For all the speak about their defensive lineups with Leonard, George, Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka, the Clippers have regarded misplaced at occasions on that finish of the ground. Ibaka has been a shell of himself and even Beverley is simply too small to cease Doncic within the paint. They’re able to recovering to shooters exterior, but it surely should be Leonard and George that settle for the problem of stopping Doncic.
With Leonard and George each on the ground in the course of the common season, the Clippers allowed simply 104.9 factors per 100 possessions. In Recreation 1, their defensive score was 132.3 in 33 minutes. They had been on the ground, however neither was the first defender when Doncic had the ball. The truth is, the Mavericks generated 130.8 factors per 100 possessions in Luka’s 41 whole minutes.
Los Angeles overtly spoke about how they wanted to scrub up their protection after the Recreation 1 loss, however that turned out to be lip service. It is going to take rather more than that to cease one of the dynamic offenses within the league. Except for incorporating extra double-team appears, the Clippers are working out of choices.
Lue has tried a number of issues to attempt to gradual Dallas down. The switches, drops, hedging and blitzes haven’t labored in both recreation. These are all good defensive gamers, too. Their communication has been good, and the assistance defenders are attending to the precise spots, however the lethal pick-and-roll partnership that Doncic has along with his large males has been too highly effective to include.
The precision of Luka breaking down the Clippers protection, possession-by-possession was medical.
1st & 2nd play: Clips don’t change
third: Clippers change
4th & fifth: Clippers do a mushy double
Recreation over. pic.twitter.com/3HgsDG4HtC
— Esfandiar | Darth Es (@JustEsBaraheni) May 26, 2021
The aggressive strategy that Los Angeles makes use of works on most groups, however then once more most groups don’t have a generational expertise like Doncic main the best way. If they’ll get the ball out of his arms lengthy sufficient to power one other participant into having to create their very own shot, it would assist tremendously because the Mavericks do not need lots of guys that may create for themselves.
One factor the Clippers have at all times lacked because the departure of Chris Paul is a real veteran chief. Neither Leonard nor George have ever been that kind of participant, and it’s a core elementary of most championship-winning groups. If both of them wished to tackle the task, all they should do is say the phrase. For now, it seems as if neither is prepared and keen to just accept the problem.
The Clippers have now misplaced 5 consecutive playoff video games relationship again to final season. Now they hit the street for 2 video games at American Airways Heart the place they are going to be greeted by a virtually full capability enviornment of Mavericks followers. Their backs are in opposition to the wall, and though it’s not technically a must-win recreation, the Clippers should win Recreation 3 to keep away from one other epic postseason collapse.