The Clippers have taken two straight losses to the Mavericks after horrendously tanking to avoid the Lakers, and ultimately, arrange a Clippers vs. Mavericks first-round matchup. This might not have been what they desired, however, at this point in the series, a choice between the Mavericks and the Lakers would be a tough decision if you’re the Clippers.
In 39.4 MPG throughout the first two games, Doncic has averaged 35 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 9 APG on 50.9% from the field and 41.7% from the field. We’re all aware of his historic numbers at such a young age, but let’s dig in a little deeper to find out how he is actually beating this Clipper basketball team.
First on the list is the Clippers’ inability to execute proper switches on the Maverick’s pick-and-rolls. Whether it’s Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, or due to the confusion of the entire team, no one at all, Doncic is taking full advantage of the Clippers’ failure to hold him down. It’s clear that the players are sometimes confused on the court, which is something you want no part of in the midst of a playoff run (let alone what went down last year). The cause of this is most likely the fault of Ty Lue. Confusion on defense usually originates from extensive and abundant playcall on the defensive end. Players will switch, then they won’t, and then they both will, and then they both won’t, it’s almost a big bundle of confusion on the court that will need to be taken care of immediately if the Clippers want to have a fighting chance back into this series.
Second on the list is the lineup issue. Figuring out the rotation may be a tough task for Ty Lue, as Serge Ibaka isn’t 100% and is listed as out for game three. This leaves Zubac and Cousins as the only viable centers. Fans and analysts have been quick to readjust to a small-ball lineup which is a creative idea, however, it has its flaws. Kristaps Porzingis is fully healthy (for all we know), and a small-ball lineup isn’t exactly going to do wonders against a 7’3 PF/C. The small-ball lineup might contain Luka, but he recognizes how to distribute the ball superbly. This would equate to multiple touches for Porzingis, who would flourish in the paint against the center in the lineup, whether that would be Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, etc. Whoever Ty Lue decides it should be, Doncic and Porzingis will take full advantage.
Lastly, handling the ‘others’. Who are the others? Tim Hardaway, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, etc. These players are key when Luka is walled off during a drive. He is one of the best drive and kick players in the league right now, and Hardaway has been the primary beneficiary of Doncic’s passes. If the Clippers ever locked Luka up on the drive, he has numerous options on the perimeter.
It will be interesting to see how Ty Lue and the Clippers attempt to guard Luka. However, it will be nearly impossible for the Clippers to recover considering all of the assets going against them.