Round two of last season’s first round matchup tips off today as the L.A. Clippers host the Dallas Mavericks for game one Saturday afternoon. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Mavericks game preview.

Clippers vs. Mavericks Game Information

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 1:30 p.m. PST
How to Watch: ESPN, Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 L.A. Sports, 1330 AM Tu Liga

Projected Starting Lineups:
L.A. Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Dončić – Tim Hardaway Jr. – Dorian Finney-Smith – Kristaps Porziņģis – Maxi Kleber

Injury Report:
L.A. Clippers:
N/A
Dallas Mavericks: Maxi Kleber – PROBABLE (Right Achilles Soreness), JJ Redick – OUT (Right Achilles)

The Big Picture

Two hundred and forty-nine days after the Clippers were ousted from the Orlando bubble, L.A. is set to embark on a new postseason run. Likely the team with the most pressure to perform in these playoffs, the Clippers once again have in front of them one of the best opportunities in franchise history to win the west and seize a title. After a regular season dedicated to not skipping steps, making sure the locker room is a safe haven for team chemistry, and prioritizing health above all else, it’s all about what’s between the ears for L.A. moving forward with the team reporting a blank injury report for game one. Aside from simply getting a head start early on in the series, the Clippers will also need to win game one to protect home court advantage, especially with Dallas reportedly opening up the American Airlines Center to near full capacity for games three and four.

The Antagonist

After pushing the Clippers to six games in the bubble and taking the regular season series over LAC 2-1, Dallas has to be fired up about the prospects of pulling off a revenge upset this time around. Of course, that all starts with the 22-year-old sensation who went toe-to-toe with Kawhi Leonard in Clippers vs. Mavericks 1—Luka Dončić. Dončić was fearless in his NBA Playoff debut, averaging 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists in the series despite playing on a compromised ankle. Aside from game planning for the relentless aggression of Dončić, the Clippers will have to recalibrate their strategy for Dallas’ revitalized supporting cast. Kristaps Porziņģis will have plenty of motivation to give Dallas what they were missing for half of the series last year. Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. are both coming off of a regular season in which they shot above 39% on at least five 3-point attempts per game. Off the bench, Jalen Brunson, Josh Richardson and Trey Burke will be the main catalysts in keeping the Mavericks afloat in the non-Dončić minutes.

Clippers vs. Mavericks Game Notes

  • How do KP and Kleber Look?: Perhaps the main x-factor that determines if this series runs shorter or longer than its first rodeo is simply whether or not some of the Mavs’ key players are healthy. The lateral meniscus tear that Porziņģis suffered against the Clippers in the bubble ended up costing him a total of 29 games in the regular season, including 10 of Dallas’ final 14 contests as the scheduled winded down. Although Porziņģis played well in Dallas’ final three tune-up games against New Orleans, Toronto and Minnesota with averages of 19.3 PPG (51.2% FG, 60% 3PT) and 6.3 rebounds, it will be interesting to see how he holds up on the defensive end against the Clippers. Speaking of defense, the Mavericks’ main Kawhi “stopper” in Maxi Kleber remains far from 100%, but appears to be on track to play in game one after missing six of the Mavs’ last eight games with right Achilles soreness.
  • Enter Playoff Rondo: This afternoon’s contest will be the first playoff minutes in the Clippers career of Rajon Rondo, who notoriously plays his best basketball in the postseason. With Rondo perhaps having an extra bit of fuel for this one after the way things soured in his short-lived stint under head coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks back in 2015, hopefully Clipper Nation will see some of the extra magic that Rondo displayed in the bubble starting today.
  • Afternoon Offenses: It’s worth emphasizing that as a result of four different series tipping off nationally today, the Clippers’ first game of the 2021 playoffs will begin at an unorthodox 1:30 p.m. PST. Matinee games are always tricky for a lot of players to get into their usual offensive rhythm, so we shall see if that will have an effect on two of the NBA’s most prolific offensives.

Feel free to stick around and chat down below as this article’s comment section will serve as our live game thread tonight for game one against the Dallas Mavericks. Sign up for a free account and join the conversation!

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Ralston Dacanay

Ralston Dacanay

Ralston joined 213Hoops as a game coverage writer in March 2021. A class of 2020 alum of California State University, Long Beach, he graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Finance.

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