The Clippers took care of business in Game 6, taking the lead for good in the second quarter as they sent the Dallas Mavericks home. Here are three Clippers stats that stand out from the end of the first round.
9-of-10: Kawhi Leonard’s second-half shooting
Kawhi Leonard hit only one shot in the first quarter and had more field-goal attempts than points in the first half. But in the second half, when it came time to put Dallas away, Leonard was nearly perfect from the field for 22 points, adding six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. When shots like these are going in, it’s unclear how any mere mortal can stop Leonard.
The Clippers are often referred to as a veteran team with tons of playoff experience, but let’s examine that a bit further. Paul George and Reggie Jackson hadn’t won playoff series since 2014. Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac have never won in the playoffs before, and JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell were deep-bench players when their teams won series. Marcus Morris Sr. has had more recent success, but he was out after the first quarter.
The reason the Clippers look like an experienced group of veterans is because they have Leonard. He has been in every type of postseason situation. He knows what to do, and he brings the rest of the group along with him. As Doc Rivers said after game, “You could tell [Kawhi] was the one guy that was used to closing out series.”
Leonard got the Clippers through one round, but the march is only beginning.
+78: Ivica Zubac’s series plus-minus
The Clippers outscored the Mavericks by 78 points in Zubac’s 149 minutes during this series, including by 33 points in the closeout game. The fourth-year center was a menace defensively and equally deflating on offense with his 71.6 true shooting percentage.
Rivers often seems worried about putting Zubac in situations when the other team is too small or mobile, but Zubac proved that he is good enough to force other teams to match up with him. Zubac was even plus-15 in the minutes he shared with Kristaps Porzingis, demonstrating his ability to contend with stretch fives. That could come in handy against Nikola Jokic if the Nuggets are LA’s second-round opponent.
Zubac was so important in this series that he earned the stamp of approval from Leonard.
“It was a big series for him,” Leonard said about Zubac postgame. “He was able to contest those shots when Luka got in the paint or when he was trying to shoot those threes. You know, kind of making him think about it a little bit more than him coming down very comfortable and laying the ball up, he had to go against the 7-footer. You know, [Zubac] helped us out big time. The numbers might not always show it, but his presence was amazing and him running the offense, finding his spots and that dunking spot and laying the ball up and making his free throws was very big.”
9: total points from Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell
The Clippers won despite pretty lousy showings from their super bench duo. Willams and Harrell were a combined 3-of-13 from the field for just nine points. This was a pretty bad series all around for Harrell, but Williams even finished with two single-digit stinkers, despite the Clippers winning both games. Leonard and George (and even Morris) will provide enough offense for the team to win on most nights, even against playoff competition, but it’s worth wondering if teams have figured out how to scheme against the two sixth men, or if they just had a couple bad games.