LA Clippers: Q and A with Dallas Mavericks Expert on first round series

I asked him several questions about what he’s been seeing so far, and what his outlook for the remainder of the series is looking like.

Q: Why has Tim Hardaway Jr. been so successful vs. the Clippers this year?

A: The Mavs have done well unlocking Hardaway Jr. during his two and a half seasons in Dallas. They turned him into a lethal catch and shoot option. The Clippers have given THJ too much space to fire in the five meetings so far this season.
Hardaway Jr. was red hot down the stretch and it has carried over into the playoffs. The Mavericks need his punch as a third scorer, and the 6’5″ wing has delivered so far.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake that the Clippers have made when defending Luka Doncic?

A: The Clippers’ biggest mistake in guarding Luka has been their switch-heavy scheme. It allows Doncic to pick his matchup. The 22-year-old superstar has added a mid-range element and improved his 3-point shooting this season. If LA lets him dictate the matchup, Luka is going to keep feasting.
The Clippers did a better job fighting over screens and trying to keep their preferred defender on Doncic in Game 2. That is their best bet to slowing him down moving forward.

Q: What have the Mavericks done differently that’s had them shooting the three ball so well?

A: Luka has stepped his game up to another level. The gravity he draws on the floor is creating a ton of open looks. The Mavericks have taken 61 open triples (defender at least four feet away as classified by NBA Stats) in the first two games of the series. Dallas inexplicably missed a lot of those shots during the regular season, but they are cashing in so far versus the Clippers.

Q: What’s your take on Ty Lue? Do you think this series has been on him so far?

A: Lue is a fantastic coach with championship experience. I would not place the blame on his shoulders. The Clippers were more aggressive in attacking the rim in Game 2, which the Mavericks have struggled to defend all season. LA must play better defense to get back in the series.

It will be interesting to see if they come out with a sense of urgency in Game 3 and deliver the first blow of the game. The Mavericks are 29-0 after winning the first quarter this season. Coach Lue must help his team get out to a fast start on Friday night.
I would pin the Clippers’ deficit more on poor execution than Coach Lue.

Q: What’s something about the Clippers that’s impressed you this series?

A: Kawhi Leonard. He looked unstoppable during his 41-point Game 2. The Mavericks have no answers in slowing him down. LA’s free throw shooting was impressive in Game 2 and throughout this season. It feels like when they step up to the line, the Clippers never miss.
On the negative end, both Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris Sr. Each man had success defending Luka Doncic inside the bubble, but the Mavericks superstar has dominated those matchups in the first two games. Doncic virtually playing both men off the floor has been surprising.

Q: How many games do you think this series will go? What’s your final series prediction?

A: I think the series goes six games, but Game 3 will be massive. If Dallas wins on Friday night, they are going to sweep the Clippers. My prediction is LA takes Game 3, but the Mavericks win Games 4 and 6 to take the series.

Final Q: What do you think of Rajon Rondo knowing the Mavericks’ plays? Do you think it will eventually pay off for the Clippers?

A: Coach Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo have a lot of history. The Mavs run a flow offense that is built on reading and reacting. They do not run a ton of plays, so it was interesting to hear Carlisle mention this.
It is an advantage for the Clippers, but it is unlikely to pay massive dividends. They may get an extra stop or two from it, which could be the difference in a tight game.

Watts had some great insight on the series so far, and hopefully, he is right in that the Clips will take Game 3. Like many, however, he doesn’t have them taking the series.

NEXT: Rondo knowing plays shows how poor Clips played

It’ll be a grind for the Clippers to come out of this series with a series win, but they’ve still got their chance. The road to a comeback starts tonight.


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