Leonard Leads LA Past the Mavericks: Luka Drops 46 Points in Loss
Leonard Leads LA Past the Mavericks: Luka Drops 46 Points in Loss – The #4 Los Angeles Clippers defeated the #5 Dallas Mavericks in Game Seven Sunday afternoon, 126-111, advancing to the second round of the NBA Playoffs in the process.
The bout of the seven-game series was the first that a home team managed to come out on top of after the two teams set an NBA record by allowing the road team to win the first six contests. Luka’s Mavericks have now been eliminated by the Clippers two years in a row while LA has an impending matchup with the top-seeded Utah Jazz in the next round.
Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
BetMGM had the Clippers as a -6.5 (-110) favorite heading into Game Seven and the Mavericks as a +6.5 (-110) underdog, with the money line at +220 for Dallas and -275 for LA and an over/under of 210.5. LA covered the spread while Dallas bettors that rolled the dice missed out on the eventual prize.
Kawhi Leonard capped off an immaculate individual series with 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists along with four steals. Leonard scored 13 points in the first quarter then switched to facilitating for his teammates in the second half, breaking down the Mavericks zone and finding his teammates with great success.
Marcus Morris gave his team a huge boost after struggling for a majority of the series, scoring 23 points on 7-9 three-point shooting in the Game Seven affair. Paul George joined Leonard and Morris in the 20-point club, racking up 22 points and 10 assists with three steals of his own. This balanced attack was enough to keep the pressure on the Mavericks for a majority of the second half, spurred by a 24-4 run to close the third quarter.
Terance Mann was called upon frequently and early due to some foul trouble on the part of Morris and George, and he responded to the challenge. The second-year guard from Florida State put in 13 points and five rebounds and played excellent defense in his first series as an important member of an NBA roster. Luke Kennard joined Mann in putting up points off the bench, giving his team an extra 11 on the scoreboard despite only playing 14 total minutes in the six games prior.
Luka Doncic put forth another Herculean effort on the losing side, racking up 46 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds on 17-30 shooting (5-11 3PT). Luka put up a silly stat-line in this series, averaging 35.7 points, 10.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 49% FG and 40.8% 3PT. If there were doubts that the moment was too big for Luka, or he was not yet a superstar in the game, those are all but a distant memory now.
Dorian Finney-Smith had 18 points and 10 rebounds (six offensive) for the Mavericks and appeared their second-best player as Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to shoot 1-14 from beyond the arc.
Coming Up Next
The next challenge for the Clippers will be to topple the #1 Utah Jazz who won the season series against them, 2-1. Odds have not yet been released for this Western Conference matchup, though the Jazz is thought to be slight favorites.
Utah and LA were two of the league’s best offenses this season by variety metrics, and although both teams play inspired defense, the next series should be a rather high-scoring one.
The Over Feels Attractive
The stars of this series— Leonard, George, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert— were all near their season averages in their head-to-head battles this season, while Mike Conley torched the Clippers to the tune of 33 points and seven assists in just one appearance this season.
Rudy Gobert could be primed for a breakout series after the Clippers started 6’8 small forward Nicolas Batum at center against the Mavericks. LA started 7-foot Ivica Zubac in 33 games this season and may do so against Utah, though they will sacrifice ability on the perimeter in the process.
The Jazz and the Clippers scored an average of 215.3 combined points in their face-offs this season, with Conley missing two games and both Leonard and George missing one.
No team made more threes than Utah this season, and no team shot threes at a higher clip than LA: keep an eye on that factor while making your picks in this series.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.