Game 1 of the first round series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers delivered almost everything anyone could have wanted. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were terrific for the Clippers, leading them to a 118-110 win. Luka Doncic was sensational, becoming the first player in league history to drop 42 points in his playoff debut, to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds.
Kristaps Porzingis is the fourth star in the series, but he only played 20 minutes, scoring 14 points and pulling down six boards, before he was ejected for picking up his second technical foul when he came to Doncic’s defense in a scuffle with Marcus Morris. Both technical fouls he received were questionable, and his ejection drew the ire of LeBron James and other NBA stars watching the game who couldn’t believe he was tossed in a playoff game for a shove and saying a bad word after a foul call.
Still, after the game Porzingis and the rest of the Mavs seemed ready to move on and move forward from the incident, rather than dwell on it. For Kristaps, he hopes it serves as a learning experience both for himself and his team, as they have to understand that the Clippers role players are well versed in the art of provocation, and Dallas can’t fall into that trap.
Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis on being provoked by the Clippers: “That’s what they do. Not their main guys, but some of the other guys, that’s their job. We can’t fall into that. We have to be above that. These are the mistakes you have to go through to gain experience.” pic.twitter.com/Gl2N7JBAyH
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 18, 2020
Between Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris, the Clippers do certainly have their fair share of instigators on the floor and it was clear the goal of the Clippers was to bring an added level of physicality to Game 1, particularly in their treatment of Doncic. They wanted Doncic to feel their presence every trip down the floor, and early it led to a number of turnovers and an 18-2 run. To Doncic and the Mavs’ credit, they fought through that to take leads at various points in the game, but the frustration from all those bumps and grabs and hits was apparent in that brief kerfuffle with Morris.
Dallas now knows what L.A. is trying to do and it’ll be incumbent on them not to fall for it, as Porzingis says. If Kristaps and Morris both get tossed for an altercation, the clear winner in that situation is the Clippers. The Mavs, particularly their top stars, have to make sure cooler heads prevail, even in the face of master instigators on the other side.