LA Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks: X-factors
Mavericks: Their supporting cast
Clippers: Their newly-found basketball IQ
The Mavericks arguably have one of the best players in the league in Doncic. We know he’s going to get his points based on his unbelievable talent, skill, and style. Not to mention the amount of time he has the ball in his hands. The Mavericks supporting cast is going to have to play above their averages in spurts to be successful against the Clippers.
Specifically, the shooters, Kleber and Hardaway are going to have to do what they do at a high level. Volume 3’s, high percentage, at timely points in the game. Threes in transition and off the pass leading to time-outs. Each of these players has had their moments this season, there will have to be a game that one of these guys if not both, will have to have a game that we look back and say, “Oh man that was the Kleber game”, or “Remember that game when Hardaway went 5-5 from 3 in the third quarter against the Clippers in that series.”
Brunson has been great this season as the backup guard and sometimes has been the deciding factor in some of the Mavs’ regular-season wins. Brunson will have to keep the Mavs offense running afloat when Luka is off the floor.
As for the Clippers, their newly found basketball IQ will be a difference-maker for them, specifically in the playoffs. As much as a fun-loving and entertaining player Lou Williams was for his tenure as a Clipper and for his whole career, the Clippers swapping him for Rondo was such a better move for them.
Rondo’s savant-like IQ and decision-making will pay dividends for the Clippers. Let’s not forget, “playoff Rondo” is definitely a real thing no matter how much Rajon hates the nickname. Rondo was the Lakers’ third-best player last year in the bubble on a championship team. If the Clippers have that Rondo in the playoffs, watch out.
The Clippers have also replaced some of their bench guys with veterans like Serge Ibaka, who is an NBA champion, a former teammate of Kawhi Leonard, has a ton of experience in the postseason, and still a very effective player on both ends. Not to mention Nick Batum, say what you want about Batum’s contract and tenure in Charlotte, but his production and skill set fits in perfectly on this team despite the slander he received when they signed him last offseason.
He makes the corner 3 at a high percentage, he’s unselfish and plays within himself. At this stage of his career, that’s all you need from him if you’re the Clippers.