Three Takeaways From Luka Doncic And The Mavs’ Big Game 2 Win Over The Clippers

There were plenty of questions going into the opening-round series between the Mavs and Clippers, chief among them being just how the Slovenian wunderkind Luka Doncic would perform in his playoff debut, when the pressure of the postseason ratchets up the intensity of every possession and defenses try to put the clamps on the opposing team’s best players.

And after a rocky start that was sullied by seven first-half turnovers, Doncic responded by pouring in 42 points, an NBA record for a playoff debut, to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists. But ultimately, it wasn’t enough as the superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were too much to overcome en route to a Game 1 win and a 1-0 series lead.

It turned out to be a very different story in Game 2, and behind Luka’s incredible play, the Mavs were able to even the series at 1-1 with a 127-114 win on Wednesday night, despite a huge night from Kawhi Leonard (35 points, 10 rebounds) and a late surge from L.A. With Luka’s final box score of 28 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, it made him the second fastest player ever reach 70 points in the postseason, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and sitting just behind George Mikan for the most points in the first two playoff games of a player’s career — just the latest mark in a historic career start for the 21-year-old sensation.

Here’s what all we learned from Game 2:

Luka Is As Luka Does

Luka picked up right where he left off in Game 1, only this time, he didn’t waste any time before he got rolling, hitting three of his first four three-pointers to start the game as the Mavs raced out to a 15-2 lead. He was also much more careful with the ball, committing just a single turnover in the first half.

Luka was, once again, virtually unguardable. That included getting to the line. During one stretch, he took 12 straight free-throws for the Mavs. But there’s still plenty of room for growth, which is a scary thought indeed for anyone who has to face him. Luka got into foul trouble early, and he picked up his fifth personal at the start of the fourth quarter, forcing Rick Carlisle to sit him for much of the final period.

Fortunately for the Mavs, they’d built a comfortable lead by that point, but a late Clippers run forced Luka back into the game with just over three minutes remaining, where he continued to deliver the goods, hitting a couple of key buckets in the clutch to help keep the game out of reach.

Role Players Could Decide The Series

The Mavs’ supporting cast was was on fire in Game 2, with three of their six players who hit double-digits in scoring coming off the bench. Trey Burke, Seth Curry, and Boban Marjanovic scored 16, 15, and 13 points respectively, as Dallas got 47 points total from their bench unit. Burke and Curry were both huge in the second half, leading a 13-2 run to close out the third quarter and build a lead from which the Clippers would not recover, despite a few late pushes. The biggest question is whether this level of production and efficiency from Dallas’ bench is sustainable for the rest of this series.

For the Clippers, it was no surprise, as their depth continues to be one of their key strengths. On a night when Paul George was struggling mightily and Pat Beverley was out with an injury, Lou Williams and Reggie Jackson helped keep the Clippers within striking distance in the first half, with Williams pouring in 12 quick points off the bench and Jackson knocking down 3-of-3 from behind the arc, including a timely one late in the second quarter to make it a four-point game, 52-48, with under three minutes remaining in the half.

Kawhi, of course, was the engine driving their offense, but it was the supporting cast that helped keep them afloat as they tried to claw their way back in the second half. Marcus Morris also stepped up in the third quarter to help close the gap. Morris is averaging 21 points per game against Dallas this season, and his contributions helped buttress the Clippers as George eventually got it going, scoring nine points in the third quarter after going scoreless in the first half.

Give Us More of the Bobi Show, Forever and Always

Boban had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Mavs in just seven minutes of action and missed just one shot in the first half.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see much more of Boban in this one, as he had a few fourth quarter minutes, a travesty that we can only hope will be remedied as the series progresses, if only for his phenomenal post-game interviews.