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Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving doom Dallas starts slowly

Vaseline 2 months ago

Here are a few quick thoughts on the Mavericks’ disappointing 109-97 loss in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers on Sunday afternoon.

Mavs guards struggle in first half: Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s first postseason as a defensive duo got off to a rough start. They are known for their offense, which can seem automatic, but they struggled to score early in the game.

Doncic connected on just four of his first thirteen shot attempts and finished with 33 points (11 of 26 field goals) with 13 rebounds and six assists. Irving missed five of his first six shots, but made up for those misses with an exceptional performance in the second half.

Rust could have taken the early offensive lulls into account, as both players missed the final two games of the regular season, meaning they haven’t seen legitimate game action in 11 days since their April 10 win at Miami.

Irving’s spectacular third quarter: Irving shook off the rough start by connecting on all eight attempts in the third quarter. It was a stunning performance from the Mavericks guard, who has the postseason experience to flush a bad half down the drain.

Irving’s most impressive moment came with two minutes left in the quarter, when he drove the baseline and completed an up-and-under reverse layup to avoid a Paul George block attempt. He finished with 31 points and seven rebounds.

The Mavericks should be more competitive in Game 2 if Irving and Doncic can bottle up their second-half performances and carry them into the first half of Tuesday’s game.

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No Kawhi, no problem: The Clippers didn’t have the luxury of having Kawhi Leonard, but there were two other All-Stars in the starting lineup and another on the bench. James Harden, George and Russell Westbrook were more than capable of shouldering the scoring load.

Harden especially benefited from the extra chance. The former scoring champion has become more of a facilitator these days, but he showed off his offensive skills early in Game 1. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, including eight in a row for his team during the final minute and a half of the period. .

Harden finished with 28 points and eight assists, providing the right balance as LA’s point guard. George totaled 22 points and six rebounds. Westbrook added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. He had a pair of dunks, including an alley-oop when Harden found himself cutting the baseline in the first half.

Leonard could also miss Game 2 on Tuesday.

Scoring drought from three-point range: Look no further than each team’s lopsided three-point shooting percentages to see where Dallas lost the game. LA connected on 18-of-36 from beyond the arc. That’s a 50% mark, which is impressive for a postseason game without many transition options. The Mavericks, on the other hand? They made just 10 of their 33 attempts for 30.3%. That’s not a good recipe for success.

Gafford’s early foul trouble leads to Lively’s playoff debut: The Mavericks had trouble containing Ivica Zubac, who finished with a huge double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds. The Clippers center established himself in the paint early, often leading to easy baskets at the rim. He was also responsible for one of Gafford’s two early mistakes, which led to the return of Dereck Lively II.

Sunday was Lively’s first game since suffering a knee injury on March 31. He finished with three points and four rebounds, and made a big impact on the defense with three blocks. He had a few misses near the rim, which could probably be attributed to playoff jitters. His and Gafford’s involvement on both ends of the court will be crucial to the success of the Mavericks, who are now down 0-1 in the series.