The LA Clippers finally found some rhythm defensively to beat the Dallas Mavericks 130-122 and take the lead in this Western Conference series. While Doc Rivers' side led comfortably for the majority of the game, Dallas continued to stay within striking distance until the final exchanges.
Kawhi Leonard was as cerebral as ever and had his best shooting night in the bubble. Luka Doncic became the third-youngest player to have a playoff triple-double but that wasn't the biggest development regarding him during the game.
Without further ado, let's jump straight into the five talking points for Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs series between the LA Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks.
#5 LA Clippers' second unit turns up big
Patrick Beverley was out for the second game in a row with a calf issue. Reggie Jackson has been his usual replacement in the starting lineup but tonight, Doc Rivers gave Landry Shamet the green flag. The guard did not disappoint at all as he played with energy and aggression throughout the game and had 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Montrezl Harrell also felt like his usual self in the 17 minutes he played in Game 3. A scuffle with Doncic early on in the tie fired him up and the Sixth Man of the Year finalist dropped 13 points on the Dallas Mavericks.
Most importantly though, Lou Williams came up with an all-round performance. He didn't have his usual high-volume scoring to show but did a great job in taking over the playmaking responsibility whenever Kawhi Leonard was on the bench for the LA Clippers.
#4 Dallas Mavericks' offense continues to come through
The Dallas Mavericks failed to restrict the LA Clippers completely but it was their offense that kept them in the hunt till the final minutes of the match-up.
After scoring only 54 points through the first-half, Rick Carlisle's side picked up steam going forward as several players rose to the occasion and knocked down important shots. Luka Doncic was still the creator in chief but with points not coming from him, Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry, and Tim Hardaway Jr. kept things flowing for the Dallas Mavericks.
Porzingis had 34 while Curry and Hardaway Jr. both had 22 each as the Mavs cut the deficit to eight halfway through the fourth quarter, having trailed by as many as 18 during the game. The LA Clippers managed to hold their own though and took the win.
#3 LA Clippers improve defensively but there's still some work to be done
The LA Clippers didn't have the same defensive efficiency against the Dallas Mavericks in the first two games as you expect of them. But tonight, they played more physical basketball and restricted Rick Carlisle's side through the first two quarters. However, the floodgates reopened post that.
Doc Rivers' men did a good job on the perimeter but weren't as agile on switches or inside the arc. They were lucky that the Mavs didn't make the most of some of the good looks they got and that their offense nullified all comeback attempts.
Marcus Morris got fouled out but he was particularly impressive on both ends of the court for the LA Clippers. More importantly, the fact that they did it for half of the game implies that the Clippers can clamp up the Dallas Mavericks, they just need to be more consistent in their efforts.
#2 Luka Doncic's ankle injury a huge concern for Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic had several struggles throughout Game 3. He had an altercation with Montrezl Harrell early on in the game. His shooting was off and he was mediocre from the free-throw line, going only 4-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Doncic was still doing well in terms of getting others involved but in the third quarter, he turned his left ankle horribly during a defensive play and hobbled off the court to head straight to the locker room. He returned in the fourth quarter but wasn't moving at the pace that the Dallas Mavericks needed him to.
Fortunately, it's not the right ankle that caused him to miss games during the regular season so the franchise can hope for a quick return. Luka Doncic did record a triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds to cap off his night.
#1 Paul George's shooting woes continue but Kawhi Leonard in imperious form
Kawhi Leonard was an absolute behemoth on both ends of the court for the Dallas Mavericks today. Not only did he score almost at will from his drives and mid-range pull-ups, but he also took over as the primary playmaker for the LA Clippers and had eight assists to show for his efforts. He finished the night with 36 points on 13-of-24 scoring.
Meanwhile, Paul George struggled immensely from the field. He went just 3-of-16 and some of his attempts were horribly astray. However, he held his own defensively against the Dallas Mavericks wings and had two steals to show for it. He'll be hoping to quickly get back to his best for the LA Clippers.