Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers drew first blood in the best-of-three series after the Mavericks went 2-2 against them.
The toll brought by the Playoffs is kicking on the body of the players. This was expected, especially after a prolonged rest due to COVID-19. Much is asked from them inside the bubble, and keeping them healthy is the priority.
Unfortunately, some teams can afford to sit down their key players, but others don’t. The latter is true for the Dallas Mavericks, who just fell face flat against a beating from the Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard stays cool and composed
The two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP determined the pace of the entire game. The Mavericks went out of the gates firing during the first quarter but failed to contain the back-to-back giant runs of the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard had all sorts of attacks to the basket, which the Mavs had no answer for.
As such, the young team found themselves buried in a deep 24-point hole at the half. The pace of the game remained the same throughout the second half. It was a tale of two stories with the Clippers looking locked and loaded while the Mavs were sloppy.
Overall, Leonard filled the stat sheet with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a block, and a steal in just 29 minutes of play. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle had to switch Kidd-Gilchrist and Finney-Smith on him. However, Leonard just proved too much to be handled even by elite-defense.
Leonard wasn’t alone on the Clippers’ run; he was flanked by the quality shooting brought by Marcus Morris, Landry Shamet, and Reggie Jackson. All three players delivered corner shots that contributed to the barrage.
Energy by Montrezl Harrell
The energy brought by the Los Angeles Clippers was electric. All throughout the game, the bench of the Clips remained vocal and energetic in supporting the five players on the floor. Leading the pack was Montrezl Harrell.
He only played 23 minutes but filled the boards with 19 points 11 rebounds, and the unmeasurable intangible of energy. At one point in the game, he crashed the board and went coast-to-coast for a drive-by and-1. At another part, he made a shot for himself at the perimeter, sinking a rare 3-point swish.
Harrell didn’t rest after that. He followed his arc-shot with a monstrous dunk after a hard cut on the paint.
The next game of the Clippers and the Mavs will be a win or go home for the latter. By then, the Mavs will hope to have Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis fully healthy.
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