Dallas Mavericks Drop Playoff Opener

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers | Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks trail the Los Angeles Clippers 1-0 after a 109-97 Game 1 loss in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Los Angeles played without star forward Kawhi Leonard, but it did not seem to matter as the Clippers controlled the entire game.

Game 1 flipped after an early 7-7 tie. The Clippers went on a 49-23 run the rest of the half, holding Dallas to just eight points in the second quarter. The Mavericks shot just 22.5% from the floor and scored only 30 points in the half.

All the improvements Dallas made to its interior defense went out the window as the Clippers continued to find advantages inside. During the first half, the Clippers outscored the Mavericks 24-8 in the paint as Ivica Zubac scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on his way to a career-high 20 points and 15 rebounds in the game.

The ease with which Zubac was able to handle the Mavs’ frontcourt does not bode well for any potential future playoff series, as Dallas could have to face Denver’s Nikola Jokic or Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns should they advance far enough.

The Mavericks punched back in the third, outscoring Los Angeles 34-31. Kyrie Irving found his offense with 20 points in the quarter, giving the Mavericks some offensive life outside Luka Doncic.

Still, Dallas trailed with time dwindling, and although it got within 12 points in the final quarter, it was too little too late.

James Harden also had an efficient game to help the Los Angeles offense with 28 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-11 from three-point range.

Doncic led the Mavericks with 33 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists, while Irving added 31 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. PJ Washington was the only other Maverick in double-figures with 11.

Dallas will need other scorers to show up if it hopes to turn the best-of-seven first-round series around.

The Mavericks and Clippers will play Game 2 at 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The series will shift to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and next Sunday.

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