Kristaps Porzingis, who missed Game 4, was absent for Game 5 as well and it showed. The Dallas Mavericks' defense seemed helpless too often, and their offense stagnated too much at key moments in the game. Needless to say, the 25-year-old would've brought something to the table on both ends, if not for his knee injury.
On the other hand, everything went right for the LA Clippers. Paul George made his long-awaited comeback to form, scoring 35 points in just 25 minutes. Not too far behind was Kawhi Leonard, who scored 32 points in 30 minutes of play.
The LA Clippers were incredibly dominant - so much so that they crossed 100 points by the middle of the 3rd quarter, and had an average lead of 25 points throughout the game. The LA Clippers humiliated the Dallas Mavericks, and Game 5 was definitely one to forget for the latter.
Let's analyze where the two teams currently stand.
The Dallas Mavericks are in trouble
The Dallas Mavericks are in trouble, and it's not just because they need to win Game 6 to survive. The Dallas Mavericks were helpless against the LA Clippers from the very start. After a good first few minutes, they suddenly couldn't keep up with their opponents anymore. Their defense was non-existent at times, and their offense wasn't good enough to bail them out this time.
There were too many occasions where competent opposition shooters like Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson were left wide open, and they made the Dallas Mavericks pay by draining three after three. More than anything else, this game exposed the Dallas Mavericks' biggest weakness without Kristaps Porzingis.
Apart from Maxi Kleber and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Dallas Mavericks lacked an above-average defender that can get a stop for them in critical moments. And with Kidd-Gilchrist not being a very good scorer, he can't be afforded too many minutes either. If the Mavericks want to compete for a championship in the future, they need an elite defender, who is, at the very least, average on the other end as well.
It didn't get much better on offense. Luka Doncic, despite being on the floor, appeared to only be able to play at 50% due to his injuries. Doncic was seen heating his ankle at every time-out, which gives an idea of how bad his injury is.
The Slovenian's usually highly productive teammates couldn't perform to their best either. While Tim Hardaway Jr. had an average game, Seth Curry and Dorian Finney-Smith went cold almost the whole game.
Their lack of impact added together with everything else resulted in what was a night to forget for the Dallas Mavericks.
The LA Clippers rediscover their dominance
Despite being an almost unbeatable team in the regular season, the LA Clippers didn't look like themselves until the start of Game 5.
The much-criticized Paul George has finally come out and shown what he's capable of. George started out blazing hot from the first minute he played, and never for a moment cooled down.
He did so well that he had more points in Game 5 than he had in Games 2, 3 and 4 combined. And while George could have done slightly better on the defensive end, LA Clippers fans will be excited by the fact that their second star has finally stepped up.
Kawhi Leonard has been consistent all series long and will be relieved that his co-star is finally looking like himself again.
On the defensive side, the LA Clippers went above and beyond what was seen in Game 4. The team was aggressive from the first minute and was the reason that the usually elite Dallas Mavericks offense was kept quiet during long stretches in the game. In fact, many would argue that it was their defense that won them the game.
If the LA Clippers can keep performing at the same level, there is reason to believe they stand a better chance than even the LA Lakers to win the NBA championship this year.
What does the future hold for this series?
The Dallas Mavericks need Kristaps Porzingis back for Game 6. With Luka Doncic unable to play at his best and the dynamic duo of the LA Clippers performing the way they are, Game 5 was proof that without Porzingis, they can be eaten alive by their opposition.
On the other side, the LA Clippers are flying higher than ever, and pose a very real threat of finishing this series in six games. However, that will depend on Paul George performing at the same level again, if not better, in the next game.
Our prediction that the LA Clippers clinch the series in six games, as long as Porzingis doesn't make a return.
Published 26 Aug 2020, 12:20 IST