The Los Angeles Clippers did what they needed to do in Game 3. If they can do what they need to do in Game 4, they’ll create a best-of-three series and take back home court advantage. They’ll look to do that in tonight’s game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas Texas as a short favorite.
The Clippers are -3 with signs of the line going to 3.5 at Bovada Sportsbook for this pivotal matchup with a total of 221.5 against the Mavericks. Dallas would love to pack a 3-1 series lead for the flight back to Los Angeles, but they’ll have to play better and also hope that star Luka Doncic is feeling better for tonight’s 9:30 p.m. ET tip-off.
Los Angeles Clippers
It wasn’t always pretty, but it went in the win column. The Clippers came away with a 118-108 victory in Game 3 to get back into the series on Friday night. Marcus Morris Sr. was inserted into the starting lineup, so that was one adjustment from head coach Tyronn Lue, but the biggest adjustments came on the defensive end of the floor.
Those were the adjustments that the Clippers needed to make. After allowing 34 points in the first quarter, it looked like a day with more of the same for Los Angeles after allowing the Mavericks to shoot over 50% from the floor and from three-point range in the first two games of the series. Instead, Los Angeles buckled down and the Mavericks only scored 27 in the second quarter and only 47 points in the second half.
In big spots, big players step up. Kawhi Leonard did that in Game 3. Not only was he more engaged on the defensive end, but he had 36 points on a spectacular 13-of-17 shooting performance. Paul George had 29 in the win and played 41 minutes, his third straight game with at least 40 minutes played. He only had three such games overall during the regular season.
Even though the Clippers left the friendly confines of the Staples Center to play in a pretty packed house in Dallas, they shot 57.9% from the floor and 13-of-31 from three. That 42% success rate bumped them up to 35.6% for the series. They’re now shooting 51.6% from the floor as a whole and seem to have found something when they needed it most.
Luka Doncic did everything he could. Icing his shoulder on the rare occasions when he was out of the game, Doncic had 44 points on 15-of-28 shooting. He made 7-of-13 threes and the Mavericks once again shot the lights out from distance, but Doncic also missed six free throws in the game as his issues at the stripe plagued him yet again.
Nobody really had the chance to have a big offensive game with such a high usage rate for Doncic, but no other Mavs player had more than 14 points in the losing effort. Tim Hardaway Jr. was only 4-of-14 from the floor and went 0-for on his eight two-point attempts. Maxi Kleber and Jalen Brunson each had 14 points, but the Mavericks were -19 with Brunson on the floor in his 22 minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis has not been a major threat in this series and the Mavericks will need to find a way to get him going. He only had nine points in 34 minutes in Game 3 on just 3-of-10 shooting. He is just 15-of-35 in the series and has only scored 43 points. He also only has two offensive rebounds. He has been a non-factor and it is hard to pull off upsets when key players are not visible.
The Mavericks made an insane percentage of shots in the first two games of this series and rode that to victories. In this game, they still shot better than 50% from three going 20-of-39, but only made 18 two-point shots. It seemed like the Clippers were daring them to keep shooting well from three while protecting the interior. There were a lot more contested shots on Friday night than we saw in the first two games.
Clippers vs. Mavericks Free Pick
It is a concern that Dallas shot 51% from three in Game 3 and still lost. This was a Mavericks team that rode a 50% success rate on triple tries to two wins in Los Angeles. The fact that they did it again, but lost, is not a good sign for the rest of the series going forward because this is a team that shot 36.2% on threes during the regular season.
The line move looks right on this game. Clippers minus the points is the side.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -3