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Five takeaways from the Clippers’ victory over the Dallas Mavericks

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Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks highlights.

With a 126-111 victory over Dallas on Thursday, the Clippers are now 3-0 in the season series against the Mavericks, with a strong likelihood the teams will meet in the first round of the postseason if Los Angeles can hold onto the Western Conference’s second seed.

Still, such a record doesn’t mean they’re relishing a rematch.

Dallas guard Luka Doncic is one of coach Doc Rivers’ favorite players to watch and least favorite to game-plan against. Just 21 years old, Doncic ranks third during the NBA restart by averaging 32.8 points and 9.8 assists, and his 11.0 rebounds tie him for fourth.

“Luka is just a handful,” Rivers said Thursday. “It takes a whole team to guard him.”

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He had 29 points Thursday and his 7-foot-2 running mate, Kristaps Porzingis, scored 30. The pair has combined for 63.0 points per seeding game and is the engine for what, at the time of the season’s March suspension, was the most efficient offense in NBA history after averaging 115.8 points per 100 possessions.

Doncic is “a great passer, can get to the hole, gets to the free-throw line,” Clippers star Kawhi Leonard said. “He has the whole package so we gotta be ready. Now, Porzingis is out there healthy and moving well, so it’s a tough team.”

Clippers center Ivica Zubac ties a franchise record by making all 10 of his shots in a 126-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Despite Doncic’s averages of 29.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in three games against the Clippers this season, Dallas has been outscored by 34 points during Doncic’s 105 total minutes in the matchups. Doncic has also made 27.3% of three-pointers against the Clippers and turned the ball over on average five times — including four Thursday.

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“We know statistically that he’s going to produce a lot,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Ultimately, the number one thing with him is winning. I know he won’t be happy with this game today even though he had a lot of points.”

Here are five other takeaways from the game:

1. During the Clippers’ first three games of the NBA restart, their offense was strikingly outside-in. They scored the fewest points in the paint (32.7 per game, far off the 47.9 they’d averaged before the season’s suspension) and, unsurprisingly, derived the lowest percentage of points from the paint (28%). Thursday’s victory provided a marked contrast. The Clippers’ 58 points in the paint represented 46% of all their points. It wasn’t coincidence that such output occurred the same night starting center Ivica Zubac scored a season-high 21 points.

2. Zubac’s big game and forward JaMychal Green’s continued effectiveness playing center in small-ball lineups means the Clippers will have a problem to figure out come playoff time should Montrezl Harrell rejoin the team, as expected: Who plays center during crunch time?

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That nod usually goes to Harrell, but Zubac has impressed and Green was a major factor during a decisive finish. In only six minutes together, Thursday’s closing lineup of Leonard, Green, Paul George, Marcus Morris and Landry Shamet outscored Dallas by 13 points.

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3. Since seeding games began, the Clippers had limited opponents to only seven fastbreak points per game — a whopping half of what they’d allowed before suspension of play. Dallas found no luck, either, after scoring zero points in transition Thursday.

4. After the victory, Rivers was asked to rate how prepared for the postseason his team is, on a scale where 10 was fully ready and one was not. He suggested a grade of six or seven.

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“Still have [Montrezl Harrell] out, we still have several guys that have minute restrictions that put a major problem on us tonight, especially with guards,” he said. “We still have Pat [Beverley] out. It would be nice to have a stretch where our whole team was available, practicing and playing. But we haven’t had that all year.”

5. About those minute restrictions: With Beverley, a starting guard, out for precautionary reasons because of soreness in his left calf, wings Lou Williams (20 minutes) and Shamet (26) were held to a capped amount of playing time and combined for 11 points. Backup guard Rodney McGruder was a beneficiary of the thin backcourt. After playing 13 combined minutes in the first three seeding games, he played 7:04 against Dallas.


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