Clippers and Mavs focus on defense for Game 2

NBA

Clippers and Mavs focus on defense for Game 2

After his team’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue says his team does not need to overreact in its approach to Tuesday’s Game 2 at Staples Center.

“We just didn’t execute the way we needed to,” Lue said. “We had a lot of breakdowns, a lot of mistakes defensively that we didn’t execute right. We’ve got to just clean those things up, then we’ll be fine.

“But,” he added, “we all have to be on the same page defensively.”

Dallas go-to guy Luka Doncic had a monster game in leading his team to the 113-103 victory on the road, finishing with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — his third playoff career triple-double.

However, the Clippers limited Doncic to just one point in the fourth quarter by doubling him and forcing other Dallas players to beat them from the perimeter, something that Lue likely will try earlier in Game 2.

With the Clippers forcing the ball out of Doncic’s hands, Tim Hardaway Jr. (21 points), Dorian Finney-Smith (18) and Jalen Brunson (15) combined for 54 points, making Los Angeles pay for doubling Doncic.

“Give Dallas all the credit; they’re a good team,” Clippers swingman Paul George said. “This is a four versus five matchup. We’ve got to be better, and we had to play better today. But give them credit.

“They came and they executed. And we know what we’ve got to do better for Game 2.”

Defensively, the Mavericks were effective at limiting the Clippers from the 3-point line. The Clippers led the league in 3-point shooting at 41 percent during the regular season, but Saturday they made just 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) against Dallas.

Kawhi Leonard and George combined for 49 points but hit only 3-for-14, combined, from beyond the arc. Marcus Morris missed all six of his 3-point attempts and finished with four points, nine fewer than his season average in the 10-point defeat.

“Looking at the film, we did some good things rotating to shooters,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s perimeter defense. “But we also have areas where we need to do much better.

“We have great respect for their team, for the way they shoot the ball and for their two superstar players. When those guys create a problem and we get into a situation where we need to double-team, our rotations must be lightning quick and on point.”

He also praised the Game 1 effort of big man Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 14 points and four rebounds — including two clutch free throws down the stretch — with Leonard guarding him most of the game.

“He’s got a top five defensive player in the world guarding him in Kawhi Leonard,” Carlisle said. “They have that much respect for his abilities at the offensive end. And he did a very good job of staying patient and finding ways to create advantages as the game went on.

“There were a couple stretches where he got frustrated and took a few shots that may not have been the best shots. But in the end, I loved his discipline, patience and the big free throws were huge at the end of the game.”

–Field Level Media

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