The original date for Game 6 of Clippers against the Mavericks was postponed from Thursday night due to the NBA strike, but basketball goes on, and a Clippers’ win would get them to the second round of the playoffs.
Where: Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida
When: 12:30 PM PT
How to Watch: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Landry Shamet – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Mavericks: Luka Doncic – Trey Burke – Tim Hardaway Jr. – Dorian Finney-Smith – Maxi Kleber
Clippers: Patrick Beverley Questionable (Calf)
Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis Out (Knee), Luka Doncic Questionable (Ankle), Dorian Finney-Smith Questionable (Hip), Trey Burke Questionable (Ankle)
The Big Picture
The Clippers’ Game 5 blowout against the Mavericks feels like it happened five weeks ago, not five days. So much has happened since then – the NBA players striking on Wednesday, the drama surrounding various NBA meetings, the deaths of Chadwick Boseman and Clifford Robinson – and basketball was once again put on the backburner. It feels weird that all that happened in the midst of this series, and that the Clippers will play the Mavericks in Game 6 tomorrow as if nothing happened since the last contest.
However, when we last left these teams, the Clippers had put together a historic game, one of the most potent offensive performances in franchise history. The floodgates on the weak Mavericks defense had broken, and with Paul George looking confident, the Clippers poured in points from all over the court. For really the first time all series (outside of the first couple minutes of Game 1 and parts of Game 3), the Clippers looked like the better, deeper, more talented team.
The Mavericks are on the brink of elimination, have officially lost Kristaps Porzingis for the rest of the series, and have several other key players that are questionable (though I’d expect all of them to play). The Clippers, of course are on the other foot, just one game away from moving past this challenging first round matchup and the horrors of Luka Doncic to reach the 2nd round for the first time since 2015. The situation could push both teams in one direction or another. Maybe the Clippers, sensing blood in the water, pounce early, and the Mavs, beaten up and close to defeat, fold. Or, perhaps, the Mavs come out with a sense of desperation, and the overconfident Clippers let them get a rhythm. Either is as likely an outcome as another, and it’s impossible to know which (or something in the middle) we might get in this one.
Does Pat Beverley Play: Pat Beverley missed Games 2 – 5 with calf soreness after sitting out most of the seeding games with the same injury. However, after being initially labeled as “doubtful”, the Clippers upgraded him to “questionable” earlier this afternoon. Pat’s energy, shooting, and defense have been greatly missed thus far, and it would be great to get him some minutes in this one. Not only would it give the Clippers a much better chance of winning, but it would also hopefully get him back into the swing of things heading into the second round. If the Clippers are to make a deep playoff run, they will need a healthy Pat Beverley. The things he brings to the Clippers have been discussed innumerable times, but suffice to say, he is invaluable. Hopefully he’s healthy enough to get 20 minutes or so in this on.
Montrezl Harrell’s Rhythm: A big development in Game 5 was the play of Montrezl Harrell. After struggling mightily in the first four games, he looked like his usual self in the last contest, putting up 19 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes. More importantly, the energy and swagger was there, and those types of intangibles are what make Trez so valuable to this Clippers team. When he’s diving on the floor for loose balls, consistently attacking the basket, and talking trash, the Clippers as a whole play with a greater passion. He plays too many minutes, and his defense will always be an issue, but when he’s right the Clippers are a more fun and more dangerous team.
Paul George’s Confidence: Montrezl Harrell’s struggles were nothing compared to those of Paul George, who looked lost on the court for much of Games 2 – 4. However, he has since discussed the mental and emotional battles he was facing in that time, and that his talking about it and getting help has made a huge difference. He did indeed look like a different player in Game 5, with much greater confidence, smoothness, and fluidity on the court. When the Clippers get that version of Paul George alongside the consistent superstardom of Kawhi Leonard, they look like the title contender that they have been projected as all season. Let’s hope that Paul George’s mental health is still in a good space, especially with all that’s happened over the past few days. The bubble has been grueling, but it seems to have created greater bonds between players and with staff, and that support could make all the difference.
That’s about all I have to say about Clippers-Mavericks Game 6. The five days off should be very helpful for Luka Doncic and his ankle, so the Clippers will need to be wary of a potential explosion. Then again, the wunderkind has been so good that it’s tough to imagine the Clippers being surprised by anything at this point. Comment on the Clippers, Mavericks, Game 6 talking points, and other ongoing NBA games below!