- Luka Dončić hit a game-winning 3 at the buzzer to give Dallas a 135-133 overtime win over L.A.
- The 21-year-old All-Star — playing on a sprained left ankle — put up an epic triple-double (43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists) to help the Mavs tie the series at 2-2
- Dallas is now +260 to win the series, while the Clippers are still favorites at -340
Luka Dončić is special. The Mavericks young star proved that point emphatically Sunday with a playoff performance for the ages. Dončić — a game-time decision thanks to a sprained left ankle suffered in a 130-122 Game 3 loss Friday — not only gutted it out in Game 4, but excelled.
He knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime with no time left to give Dallas a 135-133 win and tie this back-and-forth Western Conference First Round series between the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds at 2-2. Now, it’s a best-of-three and seemingly anyone’s for the taking.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks Series Odds
|Team||Odds to Win Series at FanDuel|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-340|
Odds taken Aug. 23
Following his second consecutive triple-double — the only two in Mavericks playoff history (in his third and fourth-career postseason games, mind you), it would seem Dončić has put Dallas squarely in the driver’s seat to win the series. The Clippers have had no answer for the wunderkind and Paul George has picked a horrible time to go into a shooting funk. Alas, the Clippers are a veteran team with title aspirations and won’t go down easily. The next handful of games will be must-see TV for NBA fans.
Luka Freaking Doncic.
— Dean Straka (@DWStraka49) August 23, 2020
Dončić & Co. Have Been Amazing
While the first-time playoff performer has put the Mavs on his back through the first four games, this is not a one-man show. Yes, the team’s second-best player, Kristaps Porzingis, was a late scratch Sunday due to right knee soreness. And, yes, the 43-17-13 effort was only the third-playoff triple-double to be at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists (joining the heady company of Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley). Even Luka’s coach was impressed.
Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle on Luka Doncic (43P, 17R, 13A in Game 4 win over Clippers): “He sees the game in 6G, not 5G. It’s another level beyond what most people see it. That game was from another planet.” pic.twitter.com/usZPkDKQi0
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 23, 2020
But players like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry have stepped up too. If the Mavericks can continue to get production from Dončić’s supporting cast, this could be a major upset.
But Porzingis’ iffy status is troubling — especially against a suddenly-desperate Clipper team. He has averaged 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and one block in the first three games of the series. And if Dallas is forced to play without him again, it would seem unlikely Carlisle’s crew would be able to continue with the same pluck moving forward (the Mavs overcame a 21-point second quarter deficit Sunday).
PG-13 Might Need a New Rating
As good as Kawhi Leonard has been so far in this series, his fellow star teammate has been atrocious. George put up a more than respectable 10-for-22 shooting effort from the field for 27 points in Game 1. But the six-time All-Star has gone a combined 10-for-47 from the field for a total of 34 points over the last three.
Paul George: “To be honest, in hindsight, if I shoot the ball better, this series would be a lot different.”
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) August 23, 2020
Lou Williams helped pick up the slack Sunday, tying his career playoff high with 36 points. But this is a game the Clippers should have won. Marcus Morris Sr. hit a clutch 3 of his own with nine seconds left in overtime to give L.A. a 133-132 lead. But then, Dončić. George’s slump can’t continue four straight games, can it?
Been There, Done That
As incredible as Dončić has been — and as bad as George has been — this series boils down to two-time NBA Finals MVP Leonard. While Luka may be one of the elite players in the game today, Kawhi is too. And he has something Dončić does not: playoff experience.
Kawhi Leonard mentions the way the Clippers played in the second and third quarters that gave Dallas life. "We didn't have no energy."
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) August 23, 2020
So, maybe Sunday was a one-off. Kawhi clearly has the ability to slay giants. He helped end the Heat’s mini-dynasty in 2014. And he did it again against an admittedly-depleted Warriors dynasty last season. He’s averaging 33 points a game this series and his holding up his end of the bargain as a superstar. If George can get going — even a little — the Clippers will be just fine.
And let’s not forget — a gritty Clippers franchise pushed the aforementioned Warriors to six games in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs before Steph Curry and Co. went on to win three titles in four seasons.
I’m banking on the veteran — and his supposed running mate to wake up — over the upstart this time around.
The pick: Clippers (-340)