MAVS (0-0) VS. CLIPPERS (0-0)
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando
TV: FSSW, ESPN
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavs: This is the 22th time in their 40-year history that the Mavs have advanced to the playoffs, and it’s their first time since 2016. It’s their 16th playoff appearance over the last 20 years. During that span starting in 2000-01, the San Antonio Spurs (19) and Boston Celtics (16) are the only NBA franchises who have made more – or as many—playoff appearances as the Mavs. . .The big news is that forward Kristaps Porzingis is listed as probable for tonight’s game with a left heel bruise. It’s the same injury that kept Porzingis out of last Thursday’s regular season finale against Phoenix . . .Prior to the injury, Porzingis had been on an absolute tear. The five-year veteran scored at least 30 points in four of the six games he played inside the bubble, and also tallied at least 20 points in the other two games. The only other time in his career that Porzingis carved out a streak of scoring at least 20 points in six consecutive games was from Nov. 3-15, 2017. That’s the season he was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team while playing for the New York Knicks. Porzingis averaged 30.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg in the bubble and was named to the NBA All-Seeding Games Second Team. . .Of course, the player who is at the forefront for the Mavs is Luka Doncic. The second-year point guard captured Rookie of the Year honors last season in a landslide. Far from satisfied, Doncic came back this season and, at age 20 and 353 days old at the time, became the youngest European-born player to start in the All-Star game. . .While climbing up the ladder and becoming one of the best players in the NBA, Doncic enters the playoffs after leading the league in triple-doubles this season with 17, and also averaging 28.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 8.8 apg. Oscar Robertson (four times), Russell Westbrook (2016-17) and Doncic are the only players in NBA history to average at least 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a season. . .Doncic also was a unanimous pick to the All-Seeding Games First Team after averaging 30 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 9.7 apg in the seven games he played in the bubble. . . .Headed by Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright, Trey Burke and Boban Marjanovic, the Mavs will need their supporting cast to step up and deliver on a consistent basis in order to battle the deep Clippers. . .Hardaway averaged 15.8 ppg, shot a career-high 39.8 percent from 3-point range and joined George McCloud as the only member of the Mavs to make at least 200 buckets from 3-point territory in a season. Hardaway made 204 shots from beyond the 3-point arc this season, while McCloud made 257 during the 1995-96 campaign. .This is the first time the Mavs and Clippers have met in a playoff series. In fact, until now, the Clippers were the last Western Conference team that the Mavs had never met in the playoffs.
About the Clippers: The Clippers are in the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. Despite all the fanfare surrounding some of their teams in recent years, the Clippers have never gotten out of the second round of the playoffs. The last time the Clippers won a playoff series was in 2015 when they beat the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the opening round. . .The Clippers enter postseason play as the favorites by many to win this year’s NBA title. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are two of the top players in the game today. Leonard finished the season with averages of 27.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg, and George averaged 21.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg. And just to prove how lethal they are, during a Dec. 13 game against Minnesota, George poured in 46 points on 17-of-31 shots, and Leonard added 42 points. . .The Clippers also receive major production from Montrezl Harrell (18.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Lou Williams (18.2 ppg, 5.6 apg), and Marcus Morris Sr. (10.1 ppg). . .Backup center Ivica Zubac showed that he can also be a threat. When the Clippers met the Mavs in the bubble on Aug. 6, Zubac was 10-of-10 from the field and finished the game with 24 points and 15 rebounds, proving once again that the Clippers have arguably the deepest bench in the NBA. . .When it comes to defense, the Clippers know how to suffocate a team to the point where they’ll leave opposing players with very little air to breathe. “Efficiency and taking care of the ball is huge when you’re playing against a team like the Clippers that are disruptive,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that get a lot of steals. George and Leonard are great wing defenders, (Patrick) Beverley is disruptive and they’re got a lot of other guys that cause problems. And if you give up live ball turnovers its really, really difficult defensively. You can never really get your defense set.”. . .The No. 2-seeded Clippers are 3-0 against the Mavs this season. They beat the Mavs twice in Dallas – 114-99 on Nov. 26 and 110-107 on Jan, 21, and also defeated the Mavs in the bubble, 126-111, on Aug. 6. . .Carlisle anticipate the Clippers will try to make life miserable for Luka Doncic. “Any team we’ve played all year long has tried to make it hard on him,” Carlisle said. “The Clippers were certainly no different. Look, they’re a top defensive team as it is, so they’re going to make it hard on everybody. We have to be prepared for them to deny him and to be disruptive that way, and we’ll just have to sometimes initiate (the offense) with other people and keep the game flowing. Sometimes you get a great player like Luka, even when they don’t have the ball they can have a great impact on the game with off-the-ball screening and cutting.”