Six games into the first round matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks, these are some of the things we know:
- Home court advantage is off the table
- Kawhi Leonard can get buckets in any way he wants to
- Luka Doncic is such a joy to watch playing basketball, except at the free throw line
- Tim Hardaway Jr. and Paul George can ball
- Ivica Zubac can’t guard Luka
There’s more to this list. But one thing we can’t add is who the clear-cut winner of this series is. We don’t know that.
With the series tied at 3-3, it’s still not clear who has the advantage.
Game 7 will be played at the Staples Center, so advantage: LA, right? Not quite. The Clippers haven’t won a single game at home in this series.
Games 1 and 2 belonged to Dallas, despite playing in Staples. Games 3 and 4 went to LA, despite playing at the American Airlines Center. The teams split Game 5 and 6, both not being able to protect their home court.
Basically, some of the things we thought we knew going into the series, are not entirely accurate. This has been a series of surprises.
First up, Reggie Jackson’s contribution. In an elimination game, Jackson showed up early and scored 14 big points in the first quarter.
Next up, Jalen Brunson’s confidence. With the precious limited minutes given to him, Brunson has made the most out of them with explosive plays. He’s much more than an offensive spark for a Dallas team that relies heavily on Luka’s playmaking.
Also, the Clippers small ball versus the Mavs Boban ball has been a joy to watch because of its pure stubbornness. Neither team wants to give in to the other’s demands, and that’s what got us here.
It all comes down to a single, grow or go home Game 7 between two teams who—despite six chances already—haven’t quite figured out how to put each other to bed.
It’s both a classic blow-by-blow exchange and a mind-boggling chess match. Now, coach Ty Lue and coach Rick Carlisle are down to their last few moves.
Whoever wins will advance to the second round as the obvious reward. But more than that, it’s the promise of growth that awaits either team at the end of this grueling series.
Will Kawhi continue his Toronto throwback performance? Will PG finally shut up the naysayers? Will Luka Magic, in the final minutes of the game, again cast his spell? Will Kristaps Porzingis finally slide into the seat next to Luka?
So many answers have yet to emerge deep in the series. Good thing we have one more chance to get them.