The Clippers forfeited home court advantage with their horrendous Game 5 performance, and now have to win Game 6 or their season is over.

Game Information

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

When: 6:30 PM PT

How to Watch: ESPN, Watch ESPN, AM 570

Tickets: For great deals on Clippers tickets, check out Barry’s Tickets!

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: James Harden – Amir Coffey – Terance Mann – Paul George – Ivica Zubac

Mavericks: Kyrie Irving – Luka Doncic – Derrick Jones Jr. – PJ Washington – Daniel Gafford

Injuries

Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Out (Knee), Terance Mann Questionable (Leg)

Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Out (Ankle), Olivier Maxence-Prosper Out (Ankle)

Notes

Go Out Swinging: In Game 5, Paul George took just 13 shots in 33 minutes, and Harden took 12 with a similar minutes load. Those numbers can’t be that low in Game 6, not with Kawhi Leonard out once again. There are games where you’re not shooting the ball well. It happens. But the Clippers’ stars being so passive on offense can’t happen, not when the Clippers have nobody else on the team who can create their own shots with any regularity. I’d rather see PG go 4-20 than 4-13, and same with Harden (though he has more of an excuse due to his playmaking). Even if PG and Harden don’t play well, I want to see aggression and a commitment to scoring, as the Clippers just don’t have enough firepower otherwise.

Feed Zu: Somewhat contradictory to that, the Clippers also have to feed Ivica Zubac. The big man has been exceptional in this series on both ends. The Clippers only being able to rebound and protect the paint when ZU is in the game is not a surprise, however. What has been a shock has been Zu’s 16 points per game on 61% shooting from the field. The Mavs have not really been able to stop Zu in the post, and when they’ve doubled him, Zu has done a solid job of kicking the ball back out. Considering the limitations of the rest of the roster, the Clippers really need to consider actively feeding Zu in the post in this game in a way they rarely do.

Rotation Adjustments: Ty Lue has played an 8-man rotation for nearly all of this series, with Russell Westbrook, Norm Powell, and Mason Plumlee being the three guys off the bench. I think that has to change in Game 6. The easiest swap is removing Plumlee for Daniel Theis or even PJ Tucker. Yes, the Mavs are big, and Plumlee provides some size. But Plumlee has been absolutely abysmal on defense and is shooting just 38.9% from the field. He can’t play. Russ has brought defense at times and his usual energy but is shooting an insanely bad 25.6% from the field – and is 6/35 (under 20%) since Game 1. The issue is that while Theis and Tucker have played in the rotation semi-recently, any replacement for Russ (Bones Hyland, Brandon Boston Jr.) has been out of the rotation for months and can’t be relied upon in this kind of situation. At the very least, I hope Tucker gets a few minutes here or there, for as dreadful as he’s been this year, at least he’s a different look.

Scheme Adjustments: I think the Clippers’ defense has held up well for the most part. In Game 5, they got sidetracked by wild defensive gambles (mostly Russ and Plumlee) and by helping too far off shooters. They need to go back to finding the right balance between trying to get the ball out of Luka and Kyrie’s hands and forcing them into tough 2 pointers with not allowing wide open threes to Mavs’ role players. But it’s on offense the Clippers need to make some adjustments. First, to counter the full-court pressure the Mavs are putting on Harden, they should have Amir or Mann bring the ball up the court. Second, outside of feeding Zu in the post, they need to run way more pick and rolls with him, especially with Harden. Third, they need to get into their offense quicker. This does not mean true fastbreaks all the time, but just pushing the ball up the court in a hurry to start the offense with 19 or 20 seconds on the shot clock instead of 15 or 16. Those few seconds make a huge difference.

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