The Dallas Mavericks are searching for answers after back-to-back losses to the LA Clippers. Will the Mavs stop the bleeding when they return to STAPLES Center, where they have looked at their best in the first round? Or, will the Clippers win for the third time in a row and push Dallas to the brink of elimination?
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HOME TEAM: LA Clippers (2-2, 0-2 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Patrick Beverley
- SG: Paul George
- SF: Kawhi Leonard
- PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
- C: Ivica Zubac
The Clippers are suddenly looking unstoppable. After losing the first two games of the series, Kawhi Leonard and the Clips have pulled themselves out of a 0-2 hole, thanks in large part to an ultra-efficient shooting that has capitalized on the Mavericks’ leaky defense.
The Clippers are downright abusing Dallas offensively. They have averaged 112.0 points on 52.9 FG% and 40.6 3FG% over the last two games. Rolling out a small starting unit also worked wonders for the Clippers in Game 4’s 106-81 win, as that move constantly drew Kristaps Porzingis out of the shaded area and stretched the Mavs’ defense.
With that said, look for Nicolas Batum to start again. Batum had 10 points and four steals in 36 minutes in Game 4. Meanwhile, Leonard is making a killing at the expense of Mavs defenders. The Klaw is averaging 33.0 points on 62.7 FG% and 47.6 3FG% so far in the series. George, on the other hand, is generating 25.0 points while shooting 50 FG%.
The Clippers have covered the spread in five of their last six home games against a team with a winning road record.
ROAD TEAM: Dallas Mavericks (2-2, 2-0 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Luka Doncic
- SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.
- SF: Dorian Finney-Smith
- PF: Kristaps Porzingis
- C: Dwight Powell
The Mavericks dominating the Clippers in two games seems like a long time ago. They failed to take advantage of having a 2-0 series lead heading to their home court for Games 3 and 4, but are now looking forward to recapturing their explosive form at STAPLES Center, where Luka Doncic and company earned both their wins in the series, thus far.
Doncic is being slowed down by a cervical strain injury, though he’s unlikely to miss the all-important Game 5. However, Doncic needs to see his supporting cast step up big time. Porzingis had 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in Game 4, but he has to take more shots against LA’s undersized frontcourt.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is coming off a 1-of-8 shooting night in Game 4, but don’t expect him to stop hunting for shots. THJ was averaging 21.3 points in the series before taking a stumble in Game 4. The Mavs, who are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the Clippers, are still getting their looks on offense, and it’s just a matter of knocking their shots down.
They’re also turning the ball over only 10.5 times per game in the playoffs, which speaks volumes about their efficiency with their possession, considering the elite wing defenders of the Clippers.
Spread: Just when most people are starting to think the Clippers have finally taken control of the series, Dallas puts together a magnificent night on offense. Take the Mavs to win and cover (+6.5).
Over/Under: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis will show up in Game 5, as they go toe to toe with the Clippers’ duo of PG3 and Kawhi. Take the Over (217.5).