Dallas – The Dallas Mavericks are one of only four teams to win the first two games in the NBA Finals and still lose the series. After that it has always been believed that, for this franchise and its fans, no playoff collapse can hurt as much as Dallas’ disintegration against the Miami Heat in 2006.
Chances are the sentiment still applies, as the first round series will never be confused with the championship series, but the Luka Doncic-led Mavericks are suddenly turning their attention to an unresolved one that ends in the same conversation. Might be possible.
After taking a 2–0 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers with back-to-back road victories that kept the league buzzing, Dallas held a crowd of nearly 18,000 fans at the American Airlines Center Friday night and Sunday night. Welcomed – and immediately disappointed him. Both.
With the series now resting at 2-2, it’s worse than it seems for the Mavericks, as they took a 30-11 lead in the first quarter of Game 3 that could have easily led to the Clippers, a complete To avert crisis on the verge of developed franchise. Two defeats later, and with Donsick clearly compromised by neck strain in Game 3, Dallas is forced to face the painful reality that it actually exceeds the 2–0 lead.
“We hope in the next few days he can get better – hopefully a lot better,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Donsick’s health. “There is a two-day break between the games, which is positive in this case.”
There was an extra day off before Wednesday’s Game 5 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the only positive Carlisle could realistically indicate.
Buoyed by coach Tyrone Lew’s short-ball lineup, the team’s defense in Sunday’s 106-81 tie in Game 4 and, above all, relentless punt attacks from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have demonstrated unity and resolve That perhaps no one outside of Lew and injured center Serge Ibaka were expected in the NBA, Active broker of team pluck on social media.
Leonard, in particular, has been aggressively dominant in the wake of last week’s chatter about Doncic’s emergence as the best player in the series, averaging 33 points per game on a ridiculous 62.7 percent shooting from the field.
The Clippers’ Moxie joke has evolved into a game within the game since their downfall against the Denver Nuggets at last summer’s Bubble Playoff at Walt Disney World in Florida.
At the peak of a Western Conference Finals performance with the Los Angeles Lakers, their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers lost three consecutive games to Denver, were knocked out of the second round by a 3–1 cushion. Coach Dock Rivers was fired, and the rigidity generated by the isolation of bubble life was cited as an important factor in the Clippers’ demise. The Clippers then went out of their way to lose their final two games during the regular season, to Houston and Oklahoma City, locking in the preferred first-round matchup with Dallas. It also meant that, by the time the defending champion Lakers achieved the No. 7 seed, Los Angeles teams could not make it to the playoffs before the conference finals.
When Donsick and the Mavericks cut the clippings twice in Los Angeles to open the series, Lew and his players were teased for messing with basketball karma. Worse, the loss reinforced the group’s perceived weaknesses, raising fears that Leonard would like to leave the club in free agency this summer.
Lew responded with his best work since coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers to a historic comeback from a 3–1 series deficit against Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals. He made 6-foot-8 Nicolas Butum his primary focus in hopes of keeping more mobile players on the floor to tackle the brilliant Doncic, who scored 38 points in the first three games before his 9-for-24 shooting struggle and calm. Took the average 19 points on Sunday.
Lew also created a starter in the backcourt to promote Reggie Jackson in shooting and ball-handling, and expanded the roles of Rajon Rondo and Terence Mann, even if it meant taking his original starter at point guard, the feisty Patrick Beverly sweep out. Rotation.
Lew stated that the Clippers wanted to “try to put Luca down” and “let him play one after the other”, by constantly switching defenders on him and living with the results as long as they “put down his assists”. . “
The similarly shorter, faster lineup bolstered the Clippers’ ability to chase Dallas’ best shooters from the 3-point line and exacerbated mobility issues, which plagued Dallas’ Kristaps Porzingis on the defensive as he lost the previous season. He had torn a meniscus in his right knee in the first round of the series. Against shear. This was the second significant knee injury for Porzingis, who in 2018 had torn his anterior cruciate ligament as a knee in his left knee.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Lew said.
A reserve approach is wise in a series in which the home team has yet to win a game and when Dallas was 3-0 on the Clippers’ floor during the regular season, including a 51-point runaway victory in December. Yet a strong case has to be made that the Mavericks won the first two games, thanks to their continued success from their 3-point range as Doncic suffered full-strength losses.
The Mavericks scored 35 for 70 from Deep in those two games, then went 5 for 30 on 3-pointers in Game 4, after wasting a 20-for-39 performance in Game 3, supporting Donsick The cast faded badly.
Carlisle said Donsick’s injury, from his vantage point, made him unable to “bend his neck to the left”. This would help explain his lack of zip in the game and Donasic’s joyless expression from the start, with black protective tape straps from the back of his neck and his uniform stretched over his left shoulder.
The uncertain health of his star guard has led to another concern for the Mavericks: Donsik’s free-throw shooting. He scored 0 for 5 from the line in Sunday’s loss, losing 40.6 percent (13 for 32) for the series.
“I don’t think it matters right now,” Doncic said of his injury. “I played terrible.”
The 2005–6 Mavericks, who circled around Dirk Nowitzki, avenged their finals collapse by beating Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals, when the Heat signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh to flank Dwayne Wade . However, Dallas has not won a single playoff series since then. The Mavericks came home after shocking the host Clippers twice, believing they had given a shot at a sweep to end that drought, given the Clippers’ recent history of folding, and immediately lost all momentum. .
NBA teams, losing the first two games at home in the seven best series, have won only four times in 31 tries. The Mavericks know how impossible this feat is, as they pulled it off in the Nowitzki era in 2005, falling into the hole 2-0 before completing a comeback with a 40-point humiliation to the Houston Rockets in Game 7. I wish, in that series, Dallas had the luxury of playing a decisive game on its floor after its terrible debut.
The Clippers have reclaimed the home-court advantage in this series and, more worryingly for Dallas, are enjoying themselves for the first time in a long time after talk of doomsday.
George said that he and Leonard did “an incredible job complementing each other” in Dallas and described the win as two prime examples of what we ultimately wanted to achieve as a partnership.
“And, you know, it’s fun,” George said.