LA Clippers record two double doubles in Game 1 win

LA Clippers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers pulled through and won Game 1 against the Mavericks 118-110.

Typical to the usual LA Clippers style, Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals was intense and full of heroics up until the final minutes, but thanks to their star duo and a surprise performance from a smaller player, the Clippers pulled out a win.

For the LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were as impressive in their first playoff game together as imagined. 29 points, 6 assists, and 12 rebounds for Leonard, and 27 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds for George. Both played big minutes and brought back the team’s momentum in order to get out of their heavy offensive dry spell in the 2nd quarter.

Much to the surprise of Clippers fans, Marcus Morris Sr. finally came back to his usual self and pushed a lot of intensity on the Mavs. Morris had 19 points, 1 assist, and 6 rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor. His 61.5 field goal percentage was the second-best on the team, and he was a force to be reckoned with up until the last second ticked off the clock.

Ivica Zubac was right behind Kawhi in recording a double-double with 10 points, 1 assist, and 10 rebounds. Most of his layups and dunks tonight were the driving force behind the eventual comeback and lead for the win, but even more important were the 4 steals that he recorded for the team.

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Defensively, the Clippers started off prospering from the amount of steals they had. Zubac ended the night with 4 steals, Kawhi with 3, and three other players ended with at least a steal. It was just enough to combat the sloppy defense they played against Luka Dončić, who ended the night with 42 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds. The Clippers also only had 11 turnovers, while the Mavericks had 21.

A big reason as to why this game was as close as it was is simply because of how hot the Mavs were in their three-point shooting. Seth Curry booked 4 out of 8 three-point attempts, Tim Hardaway Jr. booked 4 of 16, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist booked 2 of 3. There were others that shot threes well that had never been a problem before, but that has been a common event for the Clippers this season, so they handled it well.

One event that helped the Clippers was the ejection of Kristaps Porziņģis after his second technical foul came in the 3rd quarter. Despite the first call being a very weak one for punching the air and complaining at the ref, the second call came after Porziņģis got heated and pushed Marcus Morris. He tried to start a larger altercation in a situation which Morris and Dončić ended up letting go of and smiling at each other. Despite the general outcry of people saying that it was unfair, it should be more well known that someone in the NBA for so long should know what not to do with a tech already hanging over their head, and that is starting fights over nothing.

For Game 2, the best adjustments that the LA Clippers could make are finding a more reliable way to guard a red-hot Dončić and a better way for everyone to keep the offensive momentum going. Morris might not be able to play like this every game, so it might just take some bigger performances from people like Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley in order to keep everyone going. If they can successfully guard Luka while not slouching over in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Game 2 could be a much easier game. Then again, who knows which small player might come up big for Dallas in the next game.

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In closing, the playoffs have proved to be a great platform so far for Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Marcus Morris Sr. The Mavericks couldn’t handle the Clippers with Dončić scoring 42 points and Curry shooting threes like his brother, so Game 1 is a promising look at the rest of the series. If the LA Clippers make the right adjustments for Game 2 and find a way to play more consistently, they will be more than alright moving forward.