The Los Angeles Clippers came into this season with high expectations, again. They were a favorite to win it all before the season started and remained a top pick throughout the regular season. Then they matched up against the Dallas Mavericks in round 1. The Mavericks, led by Luka Doncic, began to expose the Clippers…sorta. For whatever reason, the Mavericks seem to be Clippers kryptonite. The team that led the Association in 3 point percentage in the regular season at 41.1% is shooting a pedestrian 35.4% in the playoffs. That no doubt has something to do with Mavericks defense, a staggering amount of those 3’s were on wide open looks. There is an adage in basketball, “you live by the 3, you die by the 3”. While the Clippers aren’t dying in this series, they never seemed to find their way. Until the second half of game #6.
In an exciting game that saw 19 lead changes and 6 ties, the Mavericks and Clippers went down to the wire. The difference was the stars. Luka Doncic was good for the Mavericks, Kawhi Leonard was spectacular for the Clippers. In the third quarter he scored 15 consecutive points in a moment that marked the return of the Clippers everyone expected to see. As good as he was on offense, he served as the primary defender on Doncic who had a good, but not great night. To top it all off, he dashed any hopes of a Mavericks comeback with a dagger 3. The Clippers everyone expected to see were back, for now.
Will they show up in game 7?
Star of the Game
Reggie Jackson started out hot and kept the Clippers in the game early. Kawhi Leonard did the rest. If 45 points on 18-25 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 steals in an elimination game doesn’t earn a player a fictional aware, then why even have the fictional award?! The Star of the Game exists for games like this. Kawhi earned it and is no doubt thrilled. In fact, we reached out to him via Zoom with the news and this is his reaction.
We asked him to contain himself, but he was just too excited. We understand!
The home team has won as many playoff games in this series as I have in my career. That is a concern. Game 7 nerves are a concern. Those stupid cardboard cutouts are a concern. Will the Clippers shoot over 40% from 3 or will the Mavericks kryptonite continue to work is a concern. At this point of the season though, none of it much matters. Game 7’s are about throwing the playbook out the window and doing whatever it takes in the moment to win a ballgame. Sure there are concerns, but at this point lets just tip the ball and play the game!
Reggie Jackson kept the Clippers in the game early. Without his contribution there was likely little to no chance the team would be in position for Kawhi to do what he did. Coach Lue has shown a lot of confidence in Jackson despite a torrent of, lets say, differing opinions on Jackson online. In game 6 his confidence paid off.
Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, June 7 at 12:30pm Pacific
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Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!