With roughly 4 games into NBA Playoffs, the Western Conference has proven to be much more closer than originally expected. One of the biggest surprises this year is the extremely tight series between the 7th seed Mavericks and the 2nd seed Clippers.
Although the Clippers came into the Playoffs as one of the favorites to go all-the-way, the Mavericks are giving them a hard time in just the first round; tying up the series 2-2 on Sunday. In Luka Doncic’s second year in the NBA and his first ever playoff appearance, he has put his team on his back and contributed to his team in every way possible.
On Sunday, despite missing his star center in Porzingis, Doncic was able to score a 40 point triple-double with an OT buzzer-beater game-winner. With a 43-17-13-2 statline, Doncic was excelling from all ends of the court.
While this victory brings a new breath for the Mavericks — who were greatly overlooked going into Playoffs — this also brings much concern for the Clippers and “Playoff P”.
After scoring 27 points with a 45.5 FG% in Game One of Playoffs, Paul George has struggled to hit his shots since; shooting a 21.3 FG% in his following 3 games. For reference, here are PG’s FGM and FGA for the past 3 playoff games:
Game 2: 4 – 17
Game 3: 3 – 16
Game 4: 3 – 14
While the Clippers were able to pull away with Game 3 and barely lost in OT on Sunday for Game 4, the absence of Paul George in these situations may end up costing them the series. Although the Clippers still have a loaded roster with Kawhi Leonard and a deep supporting cast, there is only so far they can go if their second-best option is not able to hit his shots.
Especially with the Mavericks missing Porzingis on Sunday — who dropped 34 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3 — the Clippers should have come out on top if Paul George did anything offensively.
Due to the struggles of PG in his past several games, other players for the Clippers have had to step up. On Sunday, with “Playoff P” still having trouble shooting, Lou Williams and Reggie Jackson were able to keep the Clippers in the game — combining for 50 points off the bench. While good scoring off the bench will surely help the Clippers stay in games, it likely won’t win them the series.
Although Leonard has been able to compensate for PG in some ways, George will need to play like he did in the regular season if he wants his team to move on. Regardless, with the way Luka and the Mavericks have been playing, I would not be surprised if we see this series conclude in a Game 7.