The Mavericks tied up the series on Wednesday night, after losing Game 1 118-110, following Kristaps Porzingis’ controversial ejection with 9:10 remaining in the third. Dallas’ offense was firing an all cylinders, as they shot .500 from the floor, and .448 from behind the line.
The Mavericks were once again led by their superstar in Doncic, who got his first postseason win in his NBA career. Luka put up a near triple-double, despite only spending 28 minutes on the floor due to foul trouble. Wonder Boy finished the game with 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists on .471/.571/.667 shooting splits. He also did an excellent job taking care of the ball, as he committed a single turnover compared to having 11 in Game 1.
But the story of the game wasn’t Luka’s ‘just another day at the office’ type of performance. The 21-year-old picked up his fourth foul at the start of the third quarter but refused to be taken out of the game. After coach Carlisle did take him out toward the end of the period, the Mavericks went on a 14-4 run to close out the quarter with a 13 point lead going into the fourth, where it was much of the same. Luka picked up his fifth foul and was benched yet again, but his teammates took care of business, pushing the lead to 18 in the final 12 minutes of the contest.
“I was frustrated for like 15 seconds. Then I was focused on supporting my teammates. They did a great, great job. Being on the bench, it’s hard for me. I want to help my team, but we won the game. Maybe if I don’t pick up that foul, we don’t win the game”.Luka Doncic, ESPN
Porzingis put up 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field, with Hardaway Jr. adding 17 points of his own. The trio of Burke-Curry–Marjanović combined for 44 points on 19-for-28 shooting off the bench, becoming the decisive factor in leading Dallas to their first postseason victory since ’16 and their first win over the Clippers in their fifth matchup this season.
“This is how we’re going to have to win games. Our depth is going to be a big part of it.”Rick Carlisle, ESPN
Kawhi Leonard had a double-double for the Clippers with 35 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 13 of 14 attempts from the charity stripe. Five other Clippers scored in double digits, with Lou Williams being the second fiddle to Kawhi, dropping 23 points as a part of the bench unit. LA’s biggest let down was Paul George, who couldn’t buy a basket throughout 31 minutes he had spent on the floor. PG had 14 points on 17 shots, not providing nearly enough support to take down the greatest offense in NBA history.
‘I just thought their bench outplayed our bench and our starters,’ Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game. Not a world-beater of a take, but a pretty solid rationale behind what had transpired Wednesday night. Because whichever way you put it, the Clippers simply weren’t good enough.
There’s an argument to be made about them being down 2-0 if Porzingis hadn’t been ejected. Now, what happened, happened and I wouldn’t embark on an alternative history route. But the fact that many attribute LA’s Game 1 victory to KP’s ejection is a good enough of an indicator that the Clippers aren’t having a great start to the playoffs, and that if there is a switch, now would be the perfect time to flip it. Because trust me – the Mavs are coming.
We believe it, Luka. Now it’s on you guys to back it up. Game 3 is Friday – we are all waiting.