How LA Clippers can slow down Luka Doncic if he comes back and plays

Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for the Mavericks’ game against our LA Clippers on Tuesday.

He’s dealing with knee and ankle sprains, but he has a chance to come back and play against the Clippers. After playing the first 13 games of the season, he’s missed these last three. The Clippers had no problem with the Mavs on Sunday, but they’re a different beast with Doncic in the fold.

It’s a beast they’ve tamed in each of the last two postseasons, and it’s clear as to how they have to work to contain the Mavs here on Tuesday.

The LA Clippers need to go small to beat the Dallas Mavericks with Luka Doncic in the picture.

The LA Clippers can beat Luka Doncic again if they go small, and prevent the Dallas Mavericks from using screens to get Doncic favorable matchups.

Last year in the postseason, when the Mavs were having success against the Clips they were using the screen game to draw Doncic onto Ivica Zubac. They were forcing a player in Zubac who isn’t quick enough to hang with Doncic off the dribble to switch onto him. Doncic would just shoot over him every time.

It wasn’t until Ty Lue started rolling with smaller lineups so that we would instead be switching more favorable Clippers onto Doncic, like Nicolas Batum for instance, that we had defensive success. Unfortunately, Batum won’t play due to the league’s health and safety protocols, but the Clippers could possibly get Marcus Morris Sr. back and they signed Justise Winslow in the offseason to get some more depth at forward.

It’s possible, however, that they could even win without going small all the time, and could have success with lineups that contain Serge Ibaka. Ibaka’s a bit quicker than Zubac, and could have an easier time keeping up with Doncic. He also would be able to use his ridiculous length when closing out on him if Luka tries to shoot over him.

Ibaka’s been a little rusty since returning from injury, however, so we likely won’t count on him. Regardless, Lue has plenty of experience containing Doncic and coming out on top with wins, and will do the same on Tuesday if Doncic plays.