If you the read the previous on the Heat/Bucks series then this series here is pretty much the same. Kicking off the Western Conference Playoffs is a rematch of the last season's 1st Round matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers. A series where the Clippers won a hard fought series that went six games. Now injuries played a factor as Kristaps Porzingis missed most of the series and Luka Doncic played on one ankle. A very entertaining series because of one ankle Luka played his heart out for the Mavs including a game-winning 3-point shot to end Game Four of the series in overtime when he had a triple-double to go along with the buzzer beater.
Ten months long, we have the rematch between this two franchises.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers finished 4th in the West with a record of 47-25, losing the tiebreaker to the Denver Nuggets for the 3rd seed. The Clippers under Tyrone Lue had their fair share of ups and downs this season. Kawhi Leonard has been injured and missed 20 games, but the Clippers the stayed the course most of the season. Despite that Kawhi averaged about 25 points per game and running mate Paul George averaging 23 points per game this season. The Clippers brought some key additions to boost their roster for a become outcome than last season where they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the West Semis. Serge Ibaka in the offseason, brings another defensive present to go along with Leonard and George also Ibaka brings shooting ability as well. Bringing DeMarcus Cousins late in the season boosts their inside present which was needed to go with Ibaka and Ivica Zubac. Floor general in Rajon Rondo from Atlanta was an excellent move. Rondo bring someone who can direct the offense and put Leonard, George, and the others to great position to score the ball. This Clippers team has the roster to make the run we thought they would make last season but can they make it this time?
The Dallas Mavericks, a team to watch for every season because of Luka Doncic. This team is the 5th seed in the West with a record of 42-30, edging out the Portland Trail Blazers (6th) and the reigning champs, Los Angeles Lakers (7th) in tiebreakers. Even though Luka hasn't been mention in the MVP discussion this season, still had a good season averaging 27.7 points, 8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists this season. Most of the season the Mavs had been middle of the pack so it can be said that they have underachieved this season a bit having to go 8-2 in their last 10 games to get the 5th seed. Most of the team has been intact. They did lost Seth Curry in the offseason for Josh Richardson from Philly. They added sharpshooter JJ Reddick late in the season. Now the Mavs get a second shot at the Clippers in the playoffs, can they have a different ending this time?
Keys to The Series
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers need a series where they show they are ready to be taking very seriously. That blew 3-1 lead last season to Denver still remains in the forefront of people's mind. Some people also believe that the Mavericks were the better last season despite the Clippers winning the series in six. The addition of Ibaka and Rondo should help the Clippers in the playoffs, but will Paul George exercise his playoff demons as of late? For the Clippers to win this series, they have to be the Clippers, plain and simple. You Luka gon get his number, but Leonard gon get his as well so its the supporting cast of the Clippers that might proved to be the difference for the Clips.
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs getting a second chance at the Clippers is probably what they wanted, but this Clippers team is better than last season's team. Luka is going to do Luka things. The health of Porzingis is always a question because when healthy him and Luka are a great duo. Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to become a better year after year. Josh Richardson has been a nice addition brings some defensive presents as a guard. For the Mavs to win this series, they will up their play a couple of notches because overall the Clippers are better team this time around.
Matchups to Watch
Kawhi Leonard versus Luka Doncic
Paul George versus Tim Hardaway Jr.
Serge Ibaka versus Kristaps Porzingis
Floor General of Rajon Rondo versus Defensive-minded Josh Richardson