There are lots of variables that impact a playoff series: from injuries to ejections to poor shooting (“Playoff” P). All three of those factors will play a part in the Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Clippers’ first round series. However, I have concluded that the Mavericks style of play will determine who comes out of Round one.
In the regular season, the Mavs and Clippers played three times, and the Clippers won each game. In those three games, the Mavs took an average of 43 three pointers per game, and 28.7 catch & shoot threes per game. They shot 31% from beyond the arc, and 32.6% on catch & shoot situations. They took 43 threes in game three, which the Clippers won. They also only drove 49 times for 27 points in game 3.
It seemed as though part of the Mavericks’ strategy was to shoot as many threes as possible, and if they shot at a high clip, they had a great chance at winning. However, the Clippers are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and it’s easy for them to guard a team that’s principally one dimensional. And that’s what the Mavericks were. In the regular season, 50.2% of the shots they were taking against LAC were threes. Against LAC in the regular season, the Mavericks drove the ball an average of 49 times a game.
It seemed as though the Clippers were mostly staying home on the shooters, which makes sense. Because the Mavericks were shooting a ton of threes a game, the Clippers were more worried about the shooters like Tim Hardaway, Jr. than stopping Trey Burke from getting to the rack.
In their game two win, they drove 60 times and scored 41 points from those drives. While watching game two, it seemed that whenever the Mavericks guards put the ball on the floor, they scored or got fouled, especially late in game.
But eventually, they were clogging the paint when Luka started taking guys off the dribble. Then the Mavericks started kicking the ball out again, leading to them shooting 47.4% on catch & shoot threes in game two. Only 33% of their shots were threes in game 2, but they shot 44.8% from three.
Then came game four. Luka and the Mavs took it to another level, scoring 45 points on 66 drives in a two-point win, and only 34.6% of their shots were threes. While watching games two and four, it seemed that whenever the Mavericks guards put the ball on the floor, they scored or got fouled, especially late in game.
Lastly, the Clippers don’t have any shot blockers. They only play one guy that’s 6’10” or taller, and he doesn’t even average a block a game. The more the Mavericks penetrate, the thinner the Clippers defense will become, making the three ball way more efficient.