LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks Series Prediction & Preview | Round 1, 2021 NBA Playoffs

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers
Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers
Miles Lockhart

The NBA playoffs are finally here, and over in the Western Conference there will be a first-round rematch from the 2020 playoffs - between the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks. As two of the most exciting sides on offense during the regular season campaign, this series could be one of the highest-scoring in the post-season. This is owing to the fact that these two teams are so well matched.

In the bubble last year, the LA Clippers advanced with a 4-2 series win, though the Dallas Mavericks pushed them close and were without Kristaps Porzingis for three of the matchups.

There was a strong perception that the Clippers tanked at the end of their season in order to arrange this matchup with the Mavs and avoid the LA Lakers. They managed to finish fourth in the West, having held a spot in the top-3 for the majority of the campaign. Once Ty Lue's side had secured home-court advantage, though, there was a greater need to have everyone healthy for the playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, have immense momentum going into the series after winning 11 of their last 15 games. That helped them stay above the Portland Trail Blazers and the LA Lakers to avoid the play-in tournament. Although they weren't the most consistent throughout the season, Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. started to hit a purple patch after the All-Star break. Finishing fifth seed is the highest the franchise has ended a season since 2011 which, coincidentally, was also the year they last won a championship led by Dirk Nowitzki.

LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks series schedule

Game 1 - Saturday, May 22nd, 4:30 PM ET (Sunday, May 23rd, 2:00 AM IST)

Game 2 - Tuesday, May 25th, 10:30 PM ET (Wednesday, May 26th, 8:00 AM IST)

Game 3 - Friday, May 28th, 9:30 PM ET (Saturday, May 29th, 7:00 AM IST)

Game 4 - Sunday, May 30th, 9:30 PM ET (Monday, May 31st, 7:00 AM IST)

Game 5* - Wednesday, June 2nd, TBD

Game 6* - Friday, June 4th, TBD

Game 7* - Sunday, June 6th, TBD

*will be played if necessary

LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks regular season head-to-head record

The Dallas Mavericks mauled the LA Clippers back in December in what was probably one of the strangest results of the season. After a horrid first-half and some woeful shooting throughout, the Clippers lost by 51 points.

Instead, their double-header in March has far more bearing on the potential outcome of this series. Playing in Dallas for both matchups, the two teams traded wins. Although the LA Clippers boast a superior defense coming into the playoffs, it did not stop Luka Doncic from running riot against them, grabbing a triple-double in the first game before pouring in 42 points in the second meeting.

The Dallas Mavericks had far superior roster support for Doncic in the second game, with all five starters scoring double-digit points in a comfortable 105-89 win. In a similar fashion to their matchup during the festive period, the LA Clippers struggled to shoot the ball efficiently while their bench only scored 11 points.

LA Clippers' strengths heading into the playoffs

LA Clippers leaders Kawhi Leonard and Rajon Rondo
LA Clippers leaders Kawhi Leonard and Rajon Rondo

Only the Brooklyn Nets were more efficient than the LA Clippers on offense this year. That was largely down to the Clippers' electric shooting. They led the league in 3-point percentage and free-throw success, while also draining the most catch-and-shoot and corner threes.

Nine Clippers players shot at above 40% from both the field and from the arc, eight of which even shot at over 45% from the field. Shooting guard Paul George led the way by averaging a career-high 46.7% from the field and led all Clippers scorers over their last 15 games.

Aside from their offensive efficiency, the LA Clippers also have an immensely deep roster. Their bench ranked fourth for most points per game, top for 3-point percentage and fifth in assists.

Dallas Mavericks' strengths heading into the playoffs

The Dallas Mavericks have one very big strength and he is widely regarded as the best player in this series. The x-factor is Luka Doncic. In just his third season in the league, Doncic continues to dazzle the Mavs fans with his array of scoring and passing. Although his figures were slightly lower than last year (27.7 points, 8.6 assists, 8 rebounds), he shot at a higher clip from the floor (47.9%) and from three (35%).

He has the ability to win a matchup or multiple games on his own, which the Clippers know all too well after his jaw-dropping game-4 buzzer-beater in the bubble.

Beyond Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks have a second All-Star in Kristaps Porzingis, though his fitness remains a major concern. Tim Hardaway Jr. has also proven to be a reliable second-scorer, averaging 19.9 points in their last 15 games.

LA Clippers' weaknesses heading into the playoffs

A lot of the LA Clippers' weaknesses this season can be pinned on the fact their lineup hasn't been consistent throughout. Kawhi Leonard missed 20 games, including 11 of their last 18, while Paul George was also sidelined for 18 fixtures.

When Serge Ibaka got injured in March, Ivica Zubac came into the starting lineup while Nicolas Batum moved to the bench. Starting point guard Patrick Beverley was absent for half of the season, though came back toward the end of the campaign.

Of course, injuries are not any team's fault and the LA Clippers look healthy going into this series. However, the worry for fans will be how much momentum and consistency their starting five will have when they have had limited minutes on the court together.

Dallas Mavericks' weaknesses heading into the playoffs

Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzings
Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzings

The Dallas Mavericks will seek to address several issues before the series. Their defense ranked second-worst in clutch time and will likely have no answer for Kawhi Leonard. He will guard Kristpas Porzingis while the Mavs are on offense, however the Latvian forward had a negative defensive box +/- this year.

It could become an uphill battle for the Mavs if Porzingis isn't available to play in some of the games. 'The Unicorn' missed another 29 games this season and his absence would put strain on the Dallas Mavericks' supporting cast, who will need to be consistently great to overcome the LA Clippers.

LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks series prediction

While this series could go either way, the LA Clippers should have too much for the Dallas Mavericks. They are built to defend the Mavericks, with several frustrating defenders to guard Doncic - the likes of Morris, Leonard and Beverley - and have the size to trouble Dallas' shooters.

The biggest question mark remains over the Slovenian - can he start firing again? If he can average 30 points a night, the Dallas Mavericks have a fighting chance, but realistically the LA Clippers will feel they can win this series in six again. Their depth will shine through, and so too will their leaders such as Rajon Rondo and Kawhi Leonard.

Edited by Arnav Kholkar


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