While the NBA¨s attention Sunday afternoon will be squarely on Game 7 between the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, the Utah Jazz will of course be watching through an even closer lens, as the winner will be their opponent in the second round of the playoffs.
But who will win the game? There are certainly a lot of things that can be looked at to try to make a prediction, but perhaps an examination of the first six contests in the series is instructive.
Here¨s a game-by-game look at how the series got to be tied up at three apiece.
Most observers predicted that the Clippers would win the series, but the Mavericks pulled away in the final two minutes to take Game 1 behind excellent nights from a bunch of players.
Why Dallas won: Luka Doncic led the way with 31 points, but four others scored at least 14 points, and it was Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. who led the charge down the stretch. Dallas shot the lights out from behind the 3-point line while LA struggled.
The Mavericks sent a huge shockwave through the NBA by winning Game 2 behind a masterful performance from Doncic in which he scored 39 points, dished seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds.
Why Dallas won: Once again, the Mavericks were great from 3 and LA struggled, while Dallas¨ supporting cast was tremendous for the second game in a row, as Hardaway Jr. scored 28 points, Porzingis 20, Maxi Kleber with 13 and Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson with nine apiece off the bench.
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With pundits around the country saying the Clippers were done and Kawhi Leonard should leave, LA fell behind big early but rebounded for the win.
Why LA won: The Clippers trailed 11-0 and by as many as 19 points in the first quarter. Desperate, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue put a small lineup of Rajon Rondo, Terrence Mann, Paul George, Leonard and Nic Batum on the floor, and LA reeled off a 14-0 run in less than three minutes to get back in the game.
The Mavericks are not very good defensively, and that finally caught up to them as LA found life in the series, even as Doncic scored 44 points.
Just about every series has at least one game that isn¨t very good, and Game 4 was it for this one, going in the Clippers¨ favor as they tied things up at two games apiece.
Why LA won: The 3-ball that had been so good for Dallas in the first three games basically disappeared altogether, as the Mavericks made an awful 5 of 30 from distance. Doncic scored just 19 points, and Hardaway Jr. had only four after previously being a huge contributor.
With all of the momentum now with the Clippers, the Mavericks responded by leading by 16 early in the fourth quarter and 10 with just over two minutes to go. LA rallied big, however, and trailed by just a point with 10 seconds left but couldn¨t climb all the way back.
Why Dallas won: Doncic scored 42 points with 14 assists and eight rebounds and Hardaway Jr. added 20 points. Notable from this one is that Boban Marjanovic started the game in place of Kleber to give Dallas a huge frontcourt alongside Porzingis (Marjanovic is 7-4 and Porzingis is 7-3).
Facing elimination, the Clippers outscored the Mavericks by 11 in the fourth quarter to come away with the win.
Why LA won: Leonard was spectacular, finishing with 45 points on just 25 shots. He was especially great down the stretch. With 3:04 remaining and the Clippers up just two, he scored the team¨s next eight points, and Dallas countered with just two from Doncic during the run. Dallas scored just 20 points in the fourth quarter.
As Game 7 draws closer, math might say it¨ll be challenging for the Clippers to win because it will have meant they won two games in a row. That said, stuff like that generally goes out the window once it¨s Game 7, and the contest will be in Los Angeles.
It¨s been clear that the concept of ＾miss or make league￣ has had a big impact in this series, as both teams have had their share of success and failure from behind the 3-point line, especially when it comes to role players. Which team¨s supporting will step up most?
That being said, there¨s a good chance the game and series comes down to which team¨s best players play best. Many thought the series would see Leonard and George be too much for Dallas, but Doncic has been outstanding much of the time.
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- Tag: math games