Takeaways from Friday’s NBA Playoffs: Mavericks knock off Clippers. Magic Power 7 game

Written by Josh Robbins, Joe Vardon, Tim Cato, and Lou Murray

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 on Friday evening to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

Luka Doncic led Dallas in the first half with his outstanding assists – finishing with 13 assists – while co-star Kyrie Irving lit up American Airlines Arena with his impressive second-half scoring, finishing with 30 points and five 3-pointers. .

No Clippers starter scored more than 18 points, and James Harden and Paul George combined to shoot 11-of-34 from the field and 2-of-16 from 3 in the playoff game.

Mavericks 114 Clippers 101

Series: 4-2, Mavericks lead

Dallas rides an elite defense to the next round

The Mavericks are headed to the conference semifinals for the second time in three seasons. The team has gotten to this point with an elite defense, one that the team has been steadily building its roster to create and providing the parsimony needed to bring out its two stars. In Friday’s Game 6, Dallas finished the game with much of that defense showing even when the team’s franchise player, Dončić, struggled with his shot.

Dončić finished with 28 points on just 9-of-26 shooting and 1-of-10 shots he attempted behind the three-point line. But that’s why Dallas got two stars, and Irving scored 30 to help turn Dallas’ series-clinching win into one that was comfortably within reach for the entire second half.

There are three questions regarding Dallas’ upcoming series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which begins Tuesday. First, Dallas has more size since acquiring Daniel Gafford, who made his Mavericks debut off the bench against the Thunder in February, recording 19 points and nine rebounds. Rookie Center Dereck Lively II did not play in that game, but both now form a formidable two-headed center rotation, the kind of physical size that has been the Thunder’s main weakness all season. Can Dallas get an advantage with second-chance points and offensive rebounds?

Second, Oklahoma City had the most turnovers in the league in the regular season while Dallas’ offense had the fourth-lowest in the league. Who wins that battle?

And third, Dončić struggled with his shooting throughout the series and wasn’t an MVP level player even when he made up for it with a great defensive effort. But surely, at some point, he’s going to land some shots against the Thunder, right? — Tim Cato, Mavericks beat writer

Lineup changes predicted disaster for the Clippers

The Clippers’ win in this series came with Amir Coffey starting in place of Kawhi Leonard. With Leonard unable to play well or at all due to right knee inflammation, the starting spot in the offense opposite All-Star George was the wild card in the starting five.

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Game 5 was a turning point of sorts. Kofi struggled initially, scoring just 3 points on 6 field goals. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue pulled him early in the third quarter. Later in the third quarter, PJ Tucker brought the series home after four DNP-CDs.

Tucker has arguably been the least effective player with any projections this season. The Clippers were outscored by 1.9 points per game with Tucker on the floor. The only players with a worse plus-minus for the Clippers this season are KJ Martin (2 games played), Kobe Brown (rookie), Xavier Moon (two-way contract), and Brandon Boston Jr. (rarely used). The Clippers were 11-17 when Tucker played this season.

But if he changed the starting lineup before the sixth match. He did not reveal the identity of the team that would play before the game, but instead of going with Norman Powell to help the offense or Russell Westbrook to help the defense and perhaps have George and Harden score first, he chose Lou Tucker. .

It was an immediate and foreseeable disaster. The lack of team athleticism was immediately apparent, as the Clippers allowed offensive rebound after offensive rebound and were killed in the possession battle.

By the time Tucker came out for the first time, the Clippers were down 20-10 with 4:45 remaining in the first quarter. With Tucker on the bench the rest of the first half, the Clippers were able to tie the game at 52 at halftime. Powell led 19-6 going into the final 6:11 of the second quarter.

But Tucker was back there to start the second half. It took Dallas 108 seconds to build an 8-0 lead to start the third quarter, which featured fast breaks and the first 3s of the game for the previously ineffective Dončić and the previously invisible Irving. Tucker didn’t leave the floor in the third quarter until 4:25, with the Clippers down 74-63 despite being tied at the half. Dallas outscored the Clippers by 21 points in Tucker’s minutes through three quarters.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, Tucker finished the game with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers and 5 fouls, the worst of which was 4 points to Irving. The Clippers didn’t play well enough after halftime with Tucker on or off the floor, but being in the early holes to start both halves doomed the Clippers and hastened the end of the season. — Lou Murray, Clippers beat writer

series: 3-3

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Magic amplifies their lineup

With Gary Harris out, Magic coach Jamal Mosley elected in Game 6 to start the same top lineup he employed to end Game 5: Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr.

Everyone except Suggs is at least 6-foot-10.

Why did Mosley choose that group? He put his two best defenders, Suggs and Isaac, on the floor simultaneously. It also kept the Magic’s usual second unit of Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Joe Ingles, Isaac and Mo Wagner intact (because Isaac was substituted midway through the first quarter and then came back to start the second quarter). It also enabled Mosley to not rely on rookie Anthony Black or second-year swingman Caleb Hostan, who, while a promising young man, hasn’t played meaningful minutes in weeks.

Did you succeed? Maybe it was a mixed bag. Although Orlando “won” the first quarter for the first time in all series, outscoring Cleveland 29-25, the same starting lineup was on the floor to open the third quarter when Cleveland opened with a 13-2 run.

Defensively, the very tall lineup almost certainly had a factor in holding the Cavaliers to 7-of-28 shooting from 3-point range. But the Cavaliers also outscored the Magic 66-38 points in the paint.

Mosley made a big adjustment down the stretch in the fourth quarter, going with Anthony instead of Isaac the vast majority of the time. Anthony, who has been down in the series, played a big role, grabbing an offensive rebound and immediately following up on a layup to extend Orlando’s lead to 96-91.

The ability to adapt quickly is one of Mosley’s biggest strengths.

On Friday, it paid off big time.

Heading into Game 7 on Sunday, Mosley is sure to continue to trust his instincts and adapt quickly if necessary.

He’s gotten his team this far.

The Wizards are one victory away from reaching the second round. – Josh Robbins, senior NBA writer

The Cavaliers’ non-LeBron playoff drought continues

The Cavaliers still haven’t won a playoff series since 1993 without LeBron James wearing their jersey.

They came close Friday night, and Donovan Mitchell did his best LeBron impression — 50 points on 36 shots in 42 minutes. It would have been a defining performance of Mitchell’s career, regardless of the team, had Cleveland won Game 6 and thus the Series. The number of players coach J.B. Bickerstaff can trust dwindles with each passing game, and a hint of fatigue seems to get the better of the Cavaliers in the final moments – a Mitchell turnover with 56 seconds left in the timeout, with Cleveland trailing 98-93 a. Prime example. The turnover was one of eight for Cleveland in the fourth quarter.

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Mitchell and Darius Garland (21 points in 43 minutes) played the entire fourth quarter and most of the second half. Meanwhile, Caris LeVert did not play at all after halftime. This is not a criticism. Bickerstaff had one game to win, a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and went with players he felt could bring it home. Mitchell scored all 18 Cavaliers points in the final frame.

Go deeper

Donovan Mitchell, despite the loss, leads the Cavaliers to a franchise-changing run in Game 7

In your wildest dreams, you couldn’t have imagined Marcus Morris Sr. not only on the floor in prime time — but at the start of the game as well. With Jarrett Allen unable to play again due to a rib injury, Bickerstaff filled in for Morris in place of Isaac Okoro, who started in that spot in Game 5. The idea would likely mitigate some of Orlando’s size, but the extra spacing Cleveland enjoyed in Game 5 wasn’t there on Friday.

Morris finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Evan Mobley, long touted as the future of the franchise, had 3 points and 7 rebounds.

Overall, the Cavaliers couldn’t make a 3. They shot better than the 7 of 28 they scored in Game 6, and that probably should have been in Boston. Then again, Cleveland held an incredible 66-38 advantage in scoring in the paint, despite the size disadvantage.

After the game, Mitchell and Bickerstaff pointed out the stark free throw discrepancy in Game 6, where Orlando shot 26 at the line compared to 10 for Cleveland. Mitchell explained that this was not the only reason for their loss, but he said to score 66 goals. Points in the paint and making 10 free throws is “crazy.”

Game 7, oh boy, will be upon us soon. There’s a lot at stake for the Cavaliers and the people inside that locker room. Futures are at stake. They’ll have to sleep on that idea, plus this: Mitchell played like the best version of himself, and it wasn’t enough in the final.

It’s a heavy thought. — Joe Vardon, senior NBA writer

Required reading

(picture: Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

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