The Dallas Mavericks were heavy favorites heading into Game 6 of their first round series against the LA Clippers. After beating the Clippers 123-93 in LA, the Mavericks weathered some early adversity to finish strong and win the series 4-2 after winning Game 6 114-101.

The Mavericks actually raced off to an early double-digit lead, where they led by as much as 13 in the first half. However, the Clippers would go on to close the first half with a 19-6 run to tie the game at halftime.

One of the things that led to the Clippers’ run was how Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving struggled from the field. They shot a combined 6 of 21 overall and were 0-9 from beyond the arc as well. Doncic still finished the first half with 18 points and seven assists, but Irving would head into the break with just two points. It was unlikely that Irving would continue to contribute so little on offense, and he certainly stepped it up in the second half.


Great players pick their moments and Irving did just that. Sensing that his team needed him to step up with his offense, Irving went nuclear in the second half and scored 28 points while shooting 10 of 13 overall and 5 of 7 from deep in the second half. The rest of the team rallied behind his scoring explosion in the third quarter, where they outscored the Clippers 35-20 and there was nothing LA could do in the fourth quarter to threaten them again.

Irving played excellent defense throughout the game as well while finishing with a statline of 30 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

Doncic would go on to end the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, a steal and a block. He struggled with his shot throughout the game, finishing 9 of 26 overall and 1 of 10 from three, but it didn’t matter because of how well his star running mate played.

It must be extremely gratifying for Doncic that he was able to put away his playoff boogeyman from his early career in front of the fans in Dallas. The Clippers sent Doncic home in the first round two years in a row in 2020 and 2021, mainly because they could simply focus their defense solely on Dallas’ Slovenian star.

No such thing can happen now, since Doncic has another all-world talent paired with him in Irving. Sure, it may have been silly to let Jalen Brunson walk a couple of offseasons ago, but they’ve since then made some savvy moves to put a strong roster around Doncic and Irving.

Three other Mavericks scored in double figures in Game 6, namely PJ Washington (14 points), Daniel Gafford (13 points), and Dereck Lively II (10 points).  Washington and Gafford both came via trade in February this year, while Lively was drafted last year when the Mavericks opted to stop fighting for the play-ins late in the season for a higher draft pick.

The only worry for the Mavericks now is whether or not Maxi Kleber heals up well, as he was unable to return to the game after a hard fall.

Those moves are paying serious dividends now, and the Oklahoma City Thunder must now face a healthy and motivated Mavericks squad that has momentum after winning their last two games by a combined 43 points.

Youth vs. Veteran savvy will be the story of that series, and I can’t wait for it to kick off in a few days.