The Dallas Mavericks were able to defeat the Patrick Beverley-less LA Clippers behind Luka Doncic’s 28 points, tying the series in Game 2.
Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoff matchup between the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks began much as the first one did — with one team opening up a massive lead early. However, unlike in Game 1, that lead held, with Dallas jumping out to a 15-2 advantage in the first few minutes and never relinquishing it.
While the Clippers, sans an injured Patrick Beverley, were able to cut the lead to less than five several times in the third quarter, they could never actually get ahead in spite of great performances from Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams. Dallas, meanwhile, was led by the young duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who combined for 51 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Mavericks pull off the upset and tie the series.
What else did you miss in Game 2 between the Clippers and Mavericks?
Most strongly-felt absence: Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley did not play Wednesday night due to a calf injury, and his absence was sorely felt. While Luka Doncic scored fewer points tonight than he did in Game 1, he appeared more confident and in control, setting the tone and pace of the game throughout. Doncic also turned the ball over much less — after giving it up 11 times on Monday, he did so just once in Game 2.
While Doncic is a great player and it would be too much to confidently claim that Beverley alone would have forced him into enough mistakes to turn this game’s tide, his defensive pressure may have opened up opportunities for the Clippers that they failed to create without him. Entering Wednesday’s game, the Clippers were 39-13 with Beverley and 11-10 without him; Doncic’s consistent dissection of the LA defense went a long way in showing why that gap exists.
Least Valuable Player: Paul George
Paul George quickly got into foul trouble, picking up his third foul of the game before the first quarter was even over. It made him a bit more hesitant defensively — he ended the contest with no steals — and forced Doc Rivers to use him to defend more secondary players like Dorian Finney-Smith, where his impact would not be felt as strongly.
Also, his shots weren’t falling all night long when the team really could have used his scoring punch to close the gap. George didn’t score until the second half and finished the game 4-for-17 from the floor and 2-for-10 from deep. While his foul trouble and shooting woes were not the only reason the Clippers lost Game 2, if they are to contend for the championship, or even get out of the first round, they will need much more from him moving forward on both ends of the floor.
Unsung Hero(es): The Mavericks bench
While Luka Doncic was easily the Mavericks’ best player, finishing with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, it was the bench that helped make this game the all-around dominant performance that it was.
Most notably, Seth Curry, Boban Marjanovic, and Trey Burke absolutely eviscerated the Clippers defense and helped expand Dallas’ lead whenever they spelled the team’s starters. Collectively, those three combined for 44 points on 19-of-28 shooting. Marjanovic also contributed nine rebounds in his 10 minutes, whileCurry had a team-high plus/minus of plus-30. The Mavericks cannot count on repeat performances like that from all three of these players moving forward, but if they can capture at least a bit of this magic in the coming games, Dallas will have a very good chance at pulling off the upset and moving on to the second round.