The playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers was predicted to be entertaining.
One team was considered among the championship contenders while the other was responsible for the best offence in NBA regular-season history.
Game 1 between these two franchises didn't disappoint. It had lights-out shooting, an ejection, big runs, playoff intensity, superstar play, and so much more as part of a competitive contest that went down to the final seconds.
In the end, the Clippers walked away victors, claiming a 118-110 win and the 1-0 series lead. Here are the biggest takeaways:
Doncic starts slow but finishes strong in playoff debut
The first 3:30 minutes of Luka Doncic's postseason debut wasn't necessarily memorable as he turned the ball over five times, while the Clippers had raced to an 18-2 lead.
If that wasn't enough, the 21-year-old Slovenian seemed to have hurt his left leg and was forced to head back to the locker room. However, when he returned after getting his left leg re-taped, the reigning Rookie of the Year looked like a different player.
Once he checked in, he sparked the Mavericks to a 28-13 run, part of a larger 48-18 run by Dallas where he was responsible for 25 points (13 points, four assists) including this crosscourt dish to Seth Curry:
Chef Curry👨🍳#MFFL | https://t.co/sirvInMV1a pic.twitter.com/FulBN5VuDm- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) August 18, 2020
He led the Mavericks to a three-point lead (69-66) at halftime, however, following Kristaps Porzingis' ejection early in the second half, Dallas had to play catch-up for a majority of the game from there.
In 38 minutes, Doncic finished with 42 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and three steals on 13-of-21 shooting from the field, and 14-of-15 from the free-throw line.
His 42 points are the most scored by an NBA player in their postseason debut and the most by a Mavericks player in a playoff game since Dirk Nowitzki in 2011. He also became the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to score 40 or more.
42 points in 1st ever playoffs.- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) August 18, 2020
Built different. pic.twitter.com/YSjmYIknNb
Having lost, the record didn't matter to Doncic. "Terrible. I had 11 turnovers," he said postgame. "I never had that much. I just want to win."
Poised Leonard leads Clippers
The Clippers looked out of rhythm in the first half. Not many teams, considered among the championship favourites, would trail at halftime when you led 18-2 within the first few minutes.
That said, they were a different team in the second half, albeit aided by Porzingis' ejection.
In the second 24 minutes, Los Angeles slowed the pace down and were led to victory by the reigning Finals MVP. As the Clippers outscored the Mavericks 52-41 in the second half, Leonard finished with numbers of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists with a team-high + 11 in 20 minutes of action.
Automatic. @FoxSportsWest | @kawhileonard pic.twitter.com/9kluJGl6y6- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) August 18, 2020
He finished the game with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists - all team-highs, making him the first player in NBA history to lead three different franchise in these categories in a playoff game.
Kawhi Leonard (29/12/6) led the @LAClippers in PTS, REB, and AST in Game 1. He is the first player in @NBAHistory to lead three different franchises in all 3 stat categories in an #NBAPlayoffs game. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/MOoTP2ARuO- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) August 18, 2020
His leadership earned the praise of his fellow superstar Paul George in the postgame interview:
"He has a great, unique skill set of keeping everyone poised."@Yg_Trece on playing alongside @kawhileonard. pic.twitter.com/rVTircEBMZ- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) August 18, 2020
George himself chipped-in with 27 points, one of five Clippers to finish in double figures. Lou Williams scored 14 points in 31 minutes off the bench. The duo of Morris Sr. (19) and Ivica Zubac (10) combined for 29 points (13-22 FGs)
Montrezl Harrell, in his first game of the season restart, finished with six points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
Porzingis' playoff debut ends early
Just under three minutes into the third quarter, Kristaps Porzingis, also in his postseason debut, was ejected as a result of picking up his second technical foul.
He received his first technical foul in the second quarter while reacting to a foul call, while the second came after an altercation where he and Morris Sr. were handed double technicals.
His playoff debut ended with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one block in 20 minutes of action.
KP had Kawhi slippin 😳- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 18, 2020
"I've just got to be smart and not let my emotions get the best of me," the 7'3" Latvian said postgame regarding his ejection.
With his ejection so early in the game, the Mavericks kept it close on the back of some useful contributions from the duo of Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr., who combined for 32 points.
Both teams are back at it in less than 48 hours. It'll be interesting to see how the game shapes out if Doncic performs to the same standard and Porzingis keeps himself in the game.
Game 2 is on Wednesday, Aug. 19th at 9:00 PM ET.
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