The LA Clippers booted the Dallas Mavericks out of the 2020 and 2021 playoffs. Can they do it again with Kawhi Leonard having an ailing knee?

Catch the game Monday at 3:30 AM, Manila time.

AWAY: Dallas Mavericks (0-0)

Projected starting five:

  • Luka Doncic
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Derrick Jones Jr.
  • PJ Washington
  • Daniel Gafford

While the Mavs lost their last two regular season games, note that it was only due to resting their starters for the playoffs. It was preceded by a timely late-season surge where they won 12 of 13 contests with a +12.3 point differential.

We’ll see how much that run helped the team, especially Luka Doncic and the other long-time Mavs who were there when they lost to the Clippers in 2020 and 2021. Dallas also lost this season’s head-to-head, 2-1, averaging 114.3 PPG.

Regardless, though, top MVP candidate Doncic will be the main focus. He hopes that third time’s the charm because it’ll start to look like he’s a regular season player if they fail again. He supplied 34.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on 52.1% shooting in three games vs. LAC this season. Kyrie Irving, who wasn’t there in the two previous Clipper playoff matchups, figures to be the boost that the team needs to get over the hump. He, on the other hand, had 26.5 PPG in the season series.

The supporting cast has an excellent opportunity to make a name for themselves, from mainstays Tim Haradaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber, to newbies Dereck Lively II, Daniel Gafford, and PJ Washington, especially defensively as they’ll have to figure out how to slow down the Clipps’ firepower. 


HOME: LA Clippers (0-0)

Projected starting five:

  • James Harden
  • Paul George
  • Terrence Mann
  • Kawhi Leonard (day-to-day) / PJ Tucker
  • Ivica Zubac

The Clippers slowed down towards the last stretch of their regular season, and lost each of their last three games, though they did have a 7-1 stretch prior to that.

The real concern for the Clippers is Kawhi Leonard’s knee inflammation as he is considered questionable for Monday. He played 68 games this season, his most since 2016-17, and here goes the injury bug again. Adding to the concern is his numbers vs. the Mavs this season: 21.3 / 6.3 / 4.0 on 44.9% shooting, including 20% from three. The percentages are far from his season averages as he was pretty close to a 50-40-90 season. Paul George’s numbers in the DAL head-to-head are off as well as he’s at 16.5 PPG on 38.9% shooting, both down from his current averages.

With all of that, James Harden may need to put his scorer hat on, and slightly forget his facilitator side. He should be in for a vintage performance should Leonard be sidelined. Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, will be key off-the-bench as he exudes a ton of energy.

Finally, look out for secondary weapons Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac, Terrence Mann, and Bones Hyland too. They are very capable and certified X-Factors in a series like this.


Spread: Clippers (+2.5)

Over/Under: Over (223)