The Dallas Mavericks are making a statement in the playoffs

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

In the grand scheme, a win in Game 1 of an opening series doesn’t mean too much. The road to the NBA championship is far too arduous to rejoice over a single victory. But this wasn’t any Game 1 for the Dallas Mavericks. This is the rematch from last year’s tilt with the Los Angeles Clippers, and lest we forget, the Clips more or less bullied the Mavericks in six games in the playoff bubble.

Of course, this year’s iteration of Mavericks’ basketball is a lot different than last year’s. Dallas has arrived at this juncture of the season much healthier than they did last time around–at least for now. But it did not take any squinting at all to see that the Mavericks took last season’s thumping to heart and learned from it.

After Saturday’s Game 1 win, these are clearly not last year’s Dallas Mavericks.

At this particular moment, the irony is rich in this series. The Clippers purposely tanked the last two games of the regular season in order to avoid a potential playoff matchup against the Lakers. In doing so, this was an obvious slight to a Mavericks’ squad that they clearly felt they could push around once again.

Well, that script has flown out the window. Make no mistake, the Mavericks came out and played an excellent game from stem to stern. The box score will indicate that they led wire-to-wire, but there were times that Los Angeles pushed their way to the lead. Heck, they have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. But time and again, Dallas responded with surges of the their own to regain their edge.

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This was no more apparent than the later stages of the game. With just under three minutes to go and the score tied 100-100, the Mavericks ended on a 13-3 run to ice it and immediately take home court from Los Angeles. It’s even more telling that Dallas was able to accomplish this feat when Luka Doncic scored only one fourth quarter point. There was also a rough 0-for-10 stretch from the field by Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis, for his part, broke through for six crucial points in the final period, punctuated by a posterizing dunk over Leonard with just under a minute remaining. It was nice to see the oft-maligned big man contribute in crunch time.

Despite Doncic’s lack of points in the fourth quarter, his 31-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist triple double underscored his brilliance. And when he wasn’t scoring, forward Dorian Finney-Smith and guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson combined for 54 points on 19-of-29 shooting to help take up any slack. The Mavericks simply do not win without these efforts from their role players.

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It’s one game, but any way you slice it, the Mavericks outplayed the Clippers for four quarters in enemy territory. As for the Clippers, this is what they asked for. It’s fun to indulge in their misfortune right now, but we all know this series will likely change dramatically as it unfolds. They’ll find their groove and punch back. Just rest easy with the knowledge that the Mavs can hang with these guys and will give them all they can handle.

  • Published on 05/24/2021 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 05/24/2021 at 10:53 AM