The LA Clippers have some of the best defenders in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. They will need to take over the series to give the team the win.
The LA Clippers were able to get the upper hand on the Dallas Mavericks in the first game of the NBA playoffs. This time around the Mavericks’ intensity was just right.
We all know that the Mavericks have the upper hand in the offensive category. It was the defense of Dallas though that was impressive.
More ball handling from the superstars is necessary we all know that. The best talent has to have the biggest impact on the game. The playoffs were where George and Leonard would carry this team to the promised land.
Here’s what head coach Doc Rivers said about the lack of ball movement:
“I think at halftime we had seven assists. I think our starters had two assists at halftime. I think we ended up with four assists from our starters. That’s not how we’ve played all year. If we play like that, we can’t win.”
Game 2 looked like a step back in the direction that the Clippers wanted to go. George ended up with four fouls and was -13 in the game. He was not able to get into a rhythm.
Better decision making is necessary from Doc Rivers also. Reggie Jackson starting was not what the doctor ordered.
Against the Mavericks in seeding play, Landry Shamet started. The result was a win and one of the most efficient games the LA Clippers had this season.
LA shot 54.3 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three. What having Shamet in there instead of Jackson means is that the stars are able to create more offense. He adds another shooting threat and a defensive-oriented mindset is established again after the loss of Patrick Beverley.
Luka Doncic was again able to have a field day. The rising star had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He shot 57.1 percent from three and 47.1 percent from the field.
Getting one of the best matchups in NBA history in Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic seems inevitable.
Here’s what Rivers said about the team defense:
“I just thought they got matchups. By the end of the game, everybody was a matchup. They were just looking us in the eye, taking us off the dribble, playing draw and kick basketball. They played together, moved the ball.”
An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Something will have to give. Leonard is one of the best defenders of all time and Doncic is one of the best offensive talents the NBA has ever seen.
Physicality and more physicality is crucial to stopping the European star. The LA Clippers need to get him to the free throw line more often. Doncic shot just 66.7 percent from the charity stripe in Game 2.
The NBA playoffs are where Kawhi Leonard shines. Last year he was able to almost single-handedly take the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals. New challenges now arise for the two-way star. Taking the challenge of guarding Luka Doncic will add to the narrative of the road to Kawhi Leonard’s third ring.
The LA Clippers trump card is Paul George. Smart play and smoothness is his gift. The wings on the Dallas Mavericks have caused an abundance of problems in Game 2 with their change of pace.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the juice to this offense. He is the athlete to a team inept of mobility. It will be up to Paul George to use his craftiness to prevent Hardaway Jr. from having an impact on the game.
Kawhi Leonard gave it up to the Mavericks after the game:
“Just give Dallas credit, they played hard tonight,” Leonard said. “They’re the reason why we didn’t come back. They knocked down big shots. When we had our runs, got to the free-throw line. That’s what it was, them playing good defense.”
The LA Clippers have to impose their will on the Dallas Mavericks for the rest of the series. Stopping those big plays that swing momentum is a key point.
Focusing on sending them to the line and forcing Kristaps Porzingis to beat them are tactics that may have to be imposed. Physicality against the best offense in NBA history will win the series.