Thanks to a legendary performance and buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks are tied with 2-2 with the Los Angeles Clippers entering Tuesday's Game 5 of their first-round, best-of-seven series.
The NBA playoff stage has been of little bother for Doncic, who's doing things at age 21 seldom seen in basketball history. Although concerns linger about his injured ankle, his line of 43-17-13 in Sunday's 135-133 overtime thriller dispels some of those.
Check out the rest of abe Insights' Mavs-Clippers preview, featuring key stats, a breakdown of the main betting lines, and the best odds available upon publication.
Date: Tuesday, August 25
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Mavericks 30%; Clippers 72%
Spread: LAC -6.5
Moneyline: DAL +235; LAC -260
There are two key injuries, one for both squads. Firstly, Kristaps Porzingis missed Game 4's win for Dallas, as he was dealing with knee soreness. Porzingis has also had a heel issue, and got ejected from the series opener, so if he can be back and contribute to his capabilities, it'll be invaluable to the Mavs' bid to win.
Patrick Beverley hasn't played since Game 1 for L.A. as a calf injury continues to hamper him. The veteran point guard is a relentless perimeter defender who'd indubitably help the Clippers better contain Dallas' elite offense, and rotate to help on Doncic on occasion.
57.2 vs. 54.5: Dallas actually has the lower, better total in effective field goal percentage allowed in this series. L.A. was elite in this area during the regular season, ranking third in the NBA, while the Mavs were 13th.
81.4 vs. 75.2: If this first-round matchup continues trending this way, the Clippers may have a better chance of winning close games. These are the free throw percentages for each team over the past four contests, with L.A. getting the edge.
25.0 vs. 24.5: The Clips and Mavs rank 1-2 in most fouls committed per game among postseason teams. To tie back into that charity stripe situation, if Game 5 is tight, it may come down to who can convert free throws the best.
Not to dwell too much on negativity, but Paul "Playoff P" George's horrendous performance to date must be discussed right out of the gate. He's shooting 29% from the field, 22.2% from 3-point range and scoring 15.3 points on 17.3 attempts on average.
ESPN Stats & Info noted how George is the first player since 1960 to shoot below 25% in three consecutive postseason contests. For a six-time All-Star especially in the prime of his career, that's unacceptable — and the Clippers can't expect to win this way.
"The shots I'm taking I'm expecting to make. It just is what it is: I'm just missing shots," said George, per Clutch Points' Tomer Azarly. "I don't think it's from a confidence standpoint...I gotta help the team. I'm aware of that and I will get to that point."
Good that PG13 is aware of this, but Los Angeles really needs him to step up. It'd be a far different series if George were playing to his usual level. Instead, he's letting mostly spectacular play by Kawhi Leonard go to waste. To make matters worse, neither George nor Leonard are ultimately living up to their billing as the best wing defenders in the sport.
Doncic has had his way with the Clippers when he hasn't been running at half speed or limping around the court with that bum ankle. Even when he's been down and Porzingis hasn't been in action, the Mavs have had players like Seth Curry, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. rise up. That trio is averaging 49.3 points per contest this series.
L.A. coach Doc Rivers has emphasized how flat his players have been emotionally both to the media and in the huddle during telecasts. Rivers needs to find a way to reach George and get the Clippers' role players better engaged — especially defensively — before their championship aspirations are abruptly dashed.
Despite how stout the Clippers are reputed to be on defense, they've been getting smoked by Dallas all series long for the most part. When Doncic has been healthy, L.A. has had few answers, so expect bettors to roll with this trend and place a higher volume of bets and action on the Over.
Unless it's part of a parlay or teaser, sharp bettors won't take the plunge on the Clips to win outright, so while LA's spread should get the majority of wagers, look for the Mavs moneyline and its superior value to garner more action.
Note: Odds current as of 10:50 a.m. ET on Tuesday, August 25.
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