MAVERICKS (0-0) AT LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (0-0)
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: BSSW, ESPN
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavericks: The Mavs are back in the playoffs for the second straight year. And for the second straight year they’ll be playing the Clippers, who eliminated them in six games in the first round of last year’s playoffs. . .One of the key players in this series for the Mavs is forward/center Kristaps Porzingis, who is three games removed from missing eight consecutive games with right knee soreness. In the first three games of last year’s playoffs against the Clippers, Porzingis averaged 23.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. And that includes Game 1 of the series when was charged with his second technical foul – and automatic ejection – with 9:10 left in the third quarter and the Mavs ahead, 71-66, in a game they eventually lost, 118-110. Porzingis missed the last three games of the six-game set with the Clippers with right knee soreness. . .Backup guard Jalen Brunson should be another player who can tip the scales in the Mavs’ favor in this series. Brunson missed last year’s playoffs after undergoing season-ending surgery on Mar. 14, 2020 to address an injury to the labrum of his right shoulder. In 68 games this season, Brunson averaged 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 25 minutes. He also converted 52.3 percent of his field goals and 40.5 percent of his 3-point shots. . .Coach Rick Carlisle said he thinks Maxi Kleber (right Achilles soreness) will play today. Kleber will be used, among other things, to help contain Kawhi Leonard. . .Carlisle also said it’s “very unlikely” that guard JJ Redick (right heel soreness) will play in this series. . .The Mavs will lean heavily on point guard Luka Doncic, who drained that magical 3-pointer at the buzzer to defeat the Clippers,135-133, in overtime in Game 4 of last year’s series. Overall in last summer’s playoffs against the Clippers, Doncic averaged 31 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 8.7 apg.
About the Clippers: All-Stars Kawhi Leonard (24.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.2 apg) and Paul George (23.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.2 apg) are the obvious engines that gets the Clippers’ machine all revved up. But center Ivica Zubac also always seems to give the Mavs fits. In the playoff series last year against Dallas, Zubac averaged 12.8 ppg and 7.0 rpg and shot 65.8 percent from the field. And when the Mavs played a regular season game in the bubble against the Clippers on Aug. 6, Zubac was 10-of-10 from the field and finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds in just 24 minutes. In addition, he averaged 13 ppg and 6.7 rpg and shot 81 percent from the floor in the three games the Clippers played against the Mavs this season. “He’s not a guy that’s considered to be one of their star players, but he is a major factor for them,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “And so you’ve got Leonard, you’ve got George, and Zubac did major damage last year in the playoff series. We’ve got to try to keep a body on (Zubac) as much as we can.”. .The Clippers led the NBA in 3-point shooting this season at 41.1 percent. Marcus Morris Sr. shot 47.3 percent from downtown, and teammates Reggie Jackson (43.3 percent), Rajon Rondo (43.2 percent), DeMarcus Cousin (42.1 percent), George (41.1 percent), Nicolas Batum (40.4 percent) and Leonard (39.8 percent) were also lethal from the 3-point arc. “The matchups with Leonard and George are very, very difficult, as everyone knows,” Carlisle said. “And they’ve surrounded those two guys with great 3-point shooting – the best 3-point shooting in the league. It’s a difficult task. It’s a great challenge. We’re going to have to really be persistent and be scrambling and be giving these guys a lot of different looks so that we can try to make it so they don’t get comfortable out there. Because when Leonard ad George are comfortable, and are giving their snipers qualify looks at threes, they’re very, very difficult to stop.”
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