The Clippers showed off their ability to win with a variety of styles against the Mavericks in Game 1. They started the game big with Ivica Zubac at center and effectively walled off the paint without compromising their offense. They finished the game with Marcus Morris Sr. at the five and switched everything to similar effect.
The Mavericks have a historically good offense with a transcendent talent running the show in Luka Doncic. LA will continue to throw a multitude of coverages at Dallas and Doncic in particular to attempt to get him off balance. The defensive end is what the team is focusing on in Game 2.
Where: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando, Florida
When: Wednesday, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports Southwest Dallas, fubo TV
How to listen: ESPN 103.3 FM / 1270 AM (ESP), KEIB 1150
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Landry Shamet, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Mavericks: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
Clippers: Patrick Beverley (left calf) — OUT
Mavericks: Courtney Lee (left calf), Dwight Powell (right achilles) — OUT, Trey Burke (left ankle), Kristaps Porzingis (right knee) — PROBABLE
Offensively, the Clippers know they can get the shots they want against the Mavericks. Kawhi Leonard set up shop in the paint and midrange, making 10 of his 14 2-point attempts. His struggles from 3-point range were the only hiccup in an otherwise stellar scoring performance. Paul George let fly from deep 11 times, the majority of them good looks, and he was able to use the threat of his jumper to slither his way into the lane for nine shots in the paint.
Even when Dallas attempted to put more defensive lineups on the court, like starting Maxi Kleber in place of Seth Curry or deploying Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for some wing size, the Clippers were unbothered. In the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Clippers had an offensive rating of 114.8 points per 100 possessions. When they’re patient and focus on their execution, they will be able to score against this Mavericks defense.
That’s why Doc Rivers continued to emphasize LA’s performance on the other side of the ball. Dallas can heat up at a moment’s notice from beyond the arc — they hit 12 first-half threes in Game 1 — but the Clippers believe that their attention to detail can limit those bursts.
LA wants to force Doncic into being a scorer and not a facilitator. He is at his best when he can create for his teammates, hence the barrage of open threes in the first 24 minutes. When Doncic drives into the lane, the Clippers have to be careful to with their help rotations to not leave shooters open on the perimeter. Even if it’s a difficult pass, Doncic can make it. It’s unlikely that the Clippers will ever get to the point where they don’t double Doncic and completely stay home on 3-point shooters — you don’t want to let Doncic waltz to the basket — but they have to communicate and switch better to limit Doncic’s impact.
The Clippers are still excellent even when they’re not at their best. But this is a team competing for a championship, and they’re always trying to get better. They get another chance to improve tonight.
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