Kawhi Leonard And The Clippers Overwhelmed The Mavs To Run Away With Game 7

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Game 7 of the Mavs-Clippers series began as so many have, with Luka Doncic dominating with 29 first half points, getting seemingly anything he wanted against the L.A. defense.

But unlike Dallas’ previous wins in L.A., the Clippers were able to match Doncic’s early offensive onslaught shot for shot to take a 70-62 lead into the break. That the Mavs were trailing by eight after a Herculean effort from Luka seemed to not bode well for them, but they made a quick run to take a five-point lead themselves early in the third quarter with some hot shooting and the Clippers going cold.

In a series filled with wild swings and runs, it was reasonable to wonder if L.A. was once again going to let Dallas march out to a big lead in their own building, but Kawhi Leonard had different ideas. Leonard had 13 points in the first quarter and none in the second, but he took over on both ends of the floor in the second half after Dallas’ initial burst and the Clippers ripped off a 24-4 run to close the quarter and take a 15-point lead into the final frame.

As big as the two top stars played in Game 7, it was about the others who were able to step up for L.A. in a way the Mavs simply couldn’t. Ty Lue pressed all the right buttons with his rotation, while Rick Carlisle was seemingly scrambling, trying to find anyone who could provide support for Doncic. Terance Mann was sensational getting early minutes off the bench and scoring 13 points in the first half to give the Clippers a big lift.

Luke Kennard, who had barely been used to this point of the series hit three big three-pointers in Game 7 on his way to an 11-point night in 14 minutes, including a few big buckets during L.A.’s third quarter run.

Marcus Morris hit a new playoff career high with seven three-pointers on nine attempts as he provided a much-needed 23 point effort.

On the other side, the Mavs just couldn’t consistently knock down shots, a combination of a swarming Clippers defense, headed up by Kawhi Leonard at the point of attack on Luka and just some flat out misses on good looks on the perimeter. Luka, after going cold and looking gassed for much of the second half, found a second wind late and got the Clipper lead down to as few as seven with just over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter with some ridiculous shot-making.

But as they had all game, L.A. had the answer to keep them at arm’s length in the form of threes from Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris to put the dagger in the Mavs as they went on to win 126-111.

In the end, Doncic had 46 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds, but he just couldn’t keep up the scoring pace by himself to keep Dallas close. Unlike early in the series, his teammates went cold from three-point range at the wrong time, with the non-Luka Mavs shooting a dismal 5-of-25 from three (and Dorian Finney-Smith was 4-of-7). On the other side, Kawhi was magnificent with 28 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, and four steals, but it was the shooting of the others that was the difference. L.A. was 20-of-43 from deep, led by Morris’ 7-of-9 performance, while Jackson, Mann, and Kennard combined to go 8-of-16 from deep. Paul George gave a strong performance as well with 22 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds, as he and Leonard took turns orchestrating the Clipper offense and ran it beautifully.

The Mavs will now enter an offseason where they will be tasked with figuring out how to upgrade the roster to be more consistent in terms of two-way contributions. We know Mark Cuban will be aggressive if able to make that happen, but what that entails remains to be seen. The Porzingis pairing is clearly not maximizing the team upside in the way Dallas had hoped when they brought him in and it’s unclear if that can be fixed with a different rotation around them or if the Mavs will look to explore trade avenues to completely shuffle the deck around their young superstar.

For the Clippers, it was a show of resilience, both in Game 7 and in the series as a whole that could be massive for them as a franchise. After how they finished in the Bubble and how this series started, coming away with a seven-game series win and getting the best of Kawhi Leonard in two win or go home situations was the type of performance that will go a long way in building their confidence that they can in fact make a deep run in this year’s playoffs, with a stiff test against the top-seeded Jazz up next.

Source: https://uproxx.com/dimemag/kawhi-leonard-clippers-mavs-doncic-game-7-video-highlights/

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