The First Round of the 2019-2020 NBA Playoffs is close to reaching its crucial stages, with the game coming thick and fast. In the West, there are still hotly-contested matches that could potentially go down to the very end in the 7-game series. It has been a close First Round encounter between the Western Conference’s second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks after three matches. The series billed as the clash between Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic has provided nothing short of drama and several twists.
A 130-122 win for the Clippers in Game 3 means they now lead the Mavericks 2-1 in the series. For the Clippers, the victory was an important one as it saw them regain the lead in the series. The win in Game 3 also ensured that the Clippers bounced back from the disappointing 127-114 defeat they suffered in Game 2.
Ahead of the pulsating match in Game 4 of the series, we take a look at some of the questions surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers before the game.
Will Kawhi Leonard continue his terrifying form?
After the first three games of the series, there is no debate that Kawhi Leonard has been the star of the first round so far. The Clippers’ star man has been unplayable in the first three games and has proven to be a big headache for the Mavericks’ defense. His current form comes as no surprise since he is usually at his best during this time of the year. In the Clippers’ three games against Dallas Mavericks, Kawhi has scored an incredible 100 points with 36 of them coming in Game 3 of the series. He is also averaging 33.3 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, 5.3 assists per game, and is shooting 34-for-66 (51.5%) for the series. Kawhi has also averaged 2.0 steals per game.
For the second straight season, Kawhi is almost single-handedly carrying a team and is thriving under the pressure that comes with it. When the Clippers needed him the most, he has delivered and proven to be a big difference-maker for the team this season.
At this rate, he could secure the Clippers’ qualification to the next round much sooner rather than later.
Will Paul George shake off his recent Shooting slump and get back to his best?
To say Paul George has struggled in the series so far is an understatement. His shooting has been terrible in the last two games against the Mavericks. In the Clippers’ 130-122 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3, Paul George only managed to shoot 3-for-16 from the field, including 1-for-8 for 3-point attempts. He also finished the game with 11 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. In the Clippers’ recent two games against the Mavericks, George has shot 7-for-33, including just 3-for-18 from beyond the arc.
In the opening match of the series, Paul George made 10 of 22 shots, scoring 27 points to ensure his team finished the game with a crucial 118-110 victory. Since the first game, he has only managed to shoot 23.5% and 18.8% of his shots in the last two games, respectively. His woeful shooting in the previous two games means that this is the first time in 9 years that he has shot below 30% in consecutive playoff games. The last time that happened was in his rookie season back in 2011.
George’s numbers from these games have been way below the standards he set for himself in the regular season. George will have to show signs of improvement in his shooting in the next game to help Kawhi and the rest of the team get past the Mavericks to take another step closer to the elusive NBA title they are desperate to win this season.
Will the Clippers continue to thrive in the absence of Patrick Beverley?
Despite the Clippers leading 2-1 in the series, it is no secret that the team has missed Point Guard Patrick Beverley’s defensive contributions in the team. Beverley has been absent for the Clippers in the last two games due to an injury. In Beverley’s absence, the Clippers have lacked a much-needed defensive intensity in the team. Beverley isn’t your conventional type of Point Guard, who is very useful with the ball and can score lots of points. However, he offers defensive support as he leads the Clippers’ defense from the front. Beverley’s size and strength make him a physical threat to opposition offense. It was evident in the first game of the season as he forced Luka Doncic into four turnovers in the opening minutes. With Beverley unavailable in Game 2, Doncic had an excellent game without facing any pressure. Even though Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet have impressed for the Clippers in the last two games, they still don’t match up to Beverley.
It is unclear if Beverley will be fit again to play in any of the remaining games in the series. However, a return to the starting lineup will be a massive boost for his team.