With the news that Kristaps Porzingis will miss the rest of the season, the Dallas Mavericks will rely on Luka Doncic and Boban Marjanovic in Game 6.
The Dallas Mavericks were dealt a crushing blow earlier this week when Kristaps Porzingis was ruled out for at least the rest of their first-round NBA playoff series against the LA Clippers with a torn meniscus. Porzingis and Luka Doncic have been the engine behind the Mavs’ historic offense all season, and Game 6 will be a tough matchup to enter shorthanded.
The Mavs played without Porzingis in Game 5, and the Clippers unleashed holy hell on the offensive end in a ridiculous 154-111 win. Obviously Porzingis’ absence along wouldn’t have been enough to stave off a 43-point bludgeoning, but it wouldn’t have hurt.
Without the 7’4″ Latvian, the Dallas Mavericks will have to rely on others to step up alongside Luka Doncic. One candidate to do just that is yet another 7’4″ European, Boban Marjanovic from Serbia. He’s a fan favorite, a movie star, perhaps the most popular player in the NBA and a charmer unlike any other, and the Mavs will need him to wreak havoc on the Clippers’ defense.
While this season, as with most seasons, Boban was used in spot duty against optimal matchups where he can use his unparalleled combination of size, touch and skill, he’s been more of a focal point in the playoffs where he’s played all but one game so far.
During the season he averaged just 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game, shooting 57.3 percent from the floor thanks to his surreal touch around the basket. In fact, once he gets to the rim, he’s all but unstoppable, scoring 1.482 points per possession around the basket in the regular season and playoffs on non-post ups.
He’s averaging just 13.0 minutes per game in this series, but facing elimination the Mavs will need his services more than ever.
Boban and Doncic have only played 217 minutes and 459 possessions together with Porzingis off the court this season, but they’ve been dominant, outscoring their opponents by 6.7 points per 100 possessions.
When they play without Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright and Seth Curry are their most common floormates, with Wright leading the pack. In fact, the trio of Marjanovic, Doncic and Wright are scoring 118.3 points per 100 possessions while yielding just 99.5 for a net rating of 18.8.
These are small samples, but small samples yield themselves to the unknown. Considering the deck is stacked against the Mavs as things stand right now, without their second-best player against a juggernaut LA Clippers squad fresh off a 154-point offensive outing, none of the known elements are good for them.
The Dallas Mavericks are up against the wall, and as they always knew, their chances of pulling off an upset against perhaps the NBA’s biggest favorite for this year’s championship will hinge upon the performances of two European stars.
It’s not going to be the two European stars the Mavs expected it to be, but hopefully, for the team from Texas, this duo will be more than enough.