On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers squared off for the two most exciting words in sports, Game 7. Today's Mavericks vs. Clippers matchup concluded the opening round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. In fact, this was the only first-round matchup where there was a Game 7.
Luka Doncic put up a heroic 46-point, 14-assist performance for the Mavericks. It wasn't enough to withstand Kawhi Leonard and a balanced effort from the Los Angeles Clippers as they prevailed with a 126-111 victory.
With the Los Angeles Clippers winning today, the home team won for the first and only time this series. On top of that, the Clippers will be advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals. They will battle the Utah Jazz in the next round, a team who held the best record in the league in the regular season.
Meanwhile, after being up 3-2 this series, it's going to be a disappointing trip home for Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. They've been eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2nd consecutive postseason.
With that said, let's take a look at the five talking points from the Los Angeles Clippers' thrilling Game 7 series-clinching victory, over the Dallas Mavericks.
#1 Terrance Mann provides a huge spark off the bench
With the Los Angeles Clippers' starting power forward, Marcus Morris, having to leave the game just 3:17 minutes into the contest after picking up two early fouls. Terrance Mann was the game's first substitute and had to step up in Morris's early absence. With that said, Mann rose to the occasion and played a shade over 26 quality minutes today.
Off the bench, Mann led all scorers with 13 points, hitting five of his 10 shots from the field. He also knocked down two of his three shots from the three-point line. By himself, Mann outscored the Mavericks bench 13-6, and overall led a Clippers bench who concluded Game 7 with 27 points.
#2 Marcus Morris comes up big despite getting into early foul trouble
Despite being in foul trouble for the majority of the first half in Game 7, Marcus Morris came up big down the stretch. He made a huge imprint on the game, particularly from behind the arc.
Morris was the Clippers' second-leading scorer with 23 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out two assists and had the highest plus/minus for all players with a +15.
Morris also knocked down a postseason career-high seven threes while taking nine three-point attempts. He finished Game 7 as the most efficient shooter from behind the arc with a 77.7 three-point percentage.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers outscored the Dallas Mavericks in the final 18:31 minutes, to seal the Game 7 victory
After going into halftime trailing 70-62, the Dallas Mavericks started the third quarter firing on all cylinders, embarking on a 19-6 run. With 6:31 left in the third, Kristaps Porzingis knocked down a mid-range jumper to give the Mavs' a 81-76 lead.
From that point on, the Los Angeles Clippers regained control of the game and never looked back. The Clippers went on a huge 24-4 run to close out the 3rd quarter.
Overall, during the final 18:31 minutes of Game 7, the Clippers outscored the Mavs' 50-30 to clinch the final spot in the NBA's 2021 Semifinals Playoff round.
#4 Luka Doncic was magical once again
Luka Doncic and co. may be going home for a second straight postseason by virtue of the Los Angeles Clippers, but that doesn't mean he didn't go without a fight.
Doncic was simply nothing short of phenominal once again this afternoon, in the midst of a 15-point loss. Doncic led all players in assists, tying a postseason high with 14 assists.
Furthermore, Doncic easily led all scorers with a postseason career-high 46 points. Matter of fact, Doncic was the only Mavericks player to score more than 20 points. Doncic also shot 17-30 (56.7%) from the field, and 5-11 (45.5%) at the three-point line.
Doncic's historic Game 7 performance will go down in the record books even if his team ultimately did lose. Sunday was an eye-opening reminder as to why Doncic is currently regarded as one of the NBA's brightest superstars and why he's on the ascending path to becoming an all-time great.
#5 Kawhi Leonard comes through once again
Two nights ago in Dallas, during a "Win or Go Home" scenario in Game 6, Kawhi Leonard put the Los Angeles Clippers on his back. He tied his career playoff-high with 45 points, leading his Clippers to a narrow 104-97 victory.
Today in Game 7, Leonard was once again superb for the LA Clippers, securing his third double-double of the series with a team-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. Plus, Leonard had a game-high three steals, along with dishing out nine assists. Kawhi was just a mere one assist away from his first career triple-double in the postseason.
Nevertheless, Kawhi Leonard did what he needed to do in order for the Clippers to advance past the Dallas Mavericks. They did so for a second consecutive postseason by having a superb all-around performance on both ends of the floor.
It's going to be interesting to see if Kawhi Leonard will be able to take it up another notch for the Los Angeles Clippers' second-round series against the top-seeded Utah Jazz. The Clippers will more than likely need elite play from Leonard and more if they wish to advance to the 2021 Western Conference Finals.
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