The Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks are doing it again this year in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. After what happened last year, it’s fair to say that this series could potentially be full of animosity, disjointed, fascinating, and one that could feature a ton of highlights.
Like last year, the Clippers are the favorites to win the series again; However, Luka Doncic and his team might have something to say about it this time around.
Before we get to the predictions, let’s recap what happened between these two teams in the regular season. Note that not everything that happened in the regular season can translate into the playoffs. The Clippers are a different team than where they first faced the Mavericks (and lost by 50 points!) As are the Mavs themselves. But it’s worth noting that Dallas can indeed keep up with LA, especially if Doncic goes for it – as he did against the Clips in the regular season.
Here are three predictions for the Clippers-Mavs playoff game:
Expect an offensive battle
The Clippers ended this season with the third best offensive rating in the league (116.7). The Mavs, meanwhile, finished eight (114.6) and had the best offense in history last season.
The two coaches, Ty Lue and Rick Carlisle are two of the smartest offensive coaches in the league because they know how to place their players in the right places. In this series, the Clippers clearly have more depth and offensive firepower, but that doesn’t mean the Mavericks can’t at least fight them for that end.
mowers across 70 sets:
tied for 3rd best NBA record.
Off Rtg: 117.7 (2nd best offense in the NBA)
Def Rtg: 111.0 (6th best defense in the NBA)
Net Rtg: +6.7 (2nd best NET rating in the NBA)
championship profile. injuries and it’s been a great season. pic.twitter.com/QHiASy5P0p
– Jamal Cristopher (@ Clippers24seven) May 14, 2021
In my opinion, the Mavericks still don’t have a reliable third scorer. Doncic is going to face some tough covers in the playoffs, especially in this series where Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are going to make his life difficult. Sure, Doncic can win the Mavs a game or two, but in order for them to at least extend the streak, guys like Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber need to step up.
It will be a chess match: battle of rotations and queues
One aspect to watch out for in this series is the way both coaches use and play with their pieces. The Mavs ended the season starting Hardaway with Donic, Porzingis and Finney-Smith. Meanwhile, the Clippers will likely go with Leonard, George, Patrick Beverely, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac.
For the Clippers, I expect Rajon Rondo (that’s the playoff version at least), Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum will play heavy minutes.
Tim Hardaway Jr. isn’t afraid to let him fly ð pic.twitter.com/wY7BuapwD8
– Mavs Nation (@MavsNationCP) May 12, 2021
The Clippers won against the Mavs in a game where they started Doncic, Prozingis, Richardson, Keleber and Finney-Smith. I think adding Hardaway to the starting lineup has become a boost for Dallas. Hardaway has ridden in the last two games and could be their x-factor in this series.
Ultimately, the Mavs’ biggest concern is who they put Leonard and George, especially when they go racing.
Clippers in six
As fun as this series is, the Clippers might be a bit too much for the Mavs. Sure, they’ve become the laughing stock of the NBA’s Twitter, but the clips are better this year when it comes to x’s and o’s and from a leadership standpoint. It’s a team that can make a deep playoff run, especially if their shot doesn’t give them away.
However, that doesn’t mean the Mavs can’t take the seven-game clips. I see a universe where the Mavs can stretch the series and win. Carlisle is an amazing coach, at least when it comes to making adjustments. The Mavs’ defense should be superb and Doncic must play the best basketball of his career to survive the Clippers.