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2021 NBA Playoffs: West First Round – (4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5) Dallas Mavericks

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
DAL leads 1-0

5/22/21

4:30 PM EST

ESPN

Mavericks - 113
Clippers - 103

Game 2:
DAL leads 2-0

5/25/21

10:30 PM EST

NBATV

Mavericks - 127
Clippers - 121

Game 3:
DAL leads 2-1

5/28/21


9:30 PM EST

ESPN

Clippers - 118
Mavericks - 108

Game 4: Series tied 2-2


5/30/21

9:30 PM EST

TNT

Clippers- 106 Mavericks - 81

Game 5:
DAL leads 3-2

6/2/21

10:00 PM ET

TNT

Mavericks - 105
Clippers - 100

Game 6:
Series tied 3-3

6/4/21

9:00 PM ET

ESPN

Clippers - 104
Mavericks - 97


Game 7
LAC wins series 4-3

6/6/21

3:30 PM ET

ABC

Mavericks - 111
Clippers - 126

West First Round – (4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5) Dallas Mavericks – Series preview

(4) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have had a quiet season by their finishing 4th in the West. They made quick work of the Mavericks in the playoffs including two blowouts for a 4-2 series win. This season they are in the top 10 in both offense and defense and look to right the wrongs of last season’s debacle. Paul George has been sharp all season while Leonard suited up only 51 times. The area of exploitation where the Clippers can excel is the interior if Zubac was a bit more consistent. The Mavs are a rotating door of big men who each possess a certain skill while none exhibit anything remotely complete. Getting Serge Ibaka back after an extended layoff from back issues would prove clutch. This is the Clippers’ series to lose which they might if Doc Rivers was still on the bench. 

(5) Dallas Mavericks

Beating the Clippers by 51 points in January and winning the season series with both Leonard and George playing is a huge confidence booster. Dorian Finney-Smith, shot 39% from 3 this season, and Maxi Kleber at 41% which kept defenses honest defending Luka. Kristaps Porzingis was also effective against the Clippers when healthy averaging 16 & 11 in two meetings this season. However, the playoffs are where the Clippers need Porzingis to be at his best with his size. Luka was the sole reason that Dallas won any playoff games vs the Clippers last season. He is toughness was often tested by Marcus Morris that lead to some intense moments. Hard to read this Mavericks team overall as they tend to play to the level of competition good or bad. 

Top players to watch

Luka Doncic: 2020-2021 season

  • 27.7 PPG
  • 8.0 RPG
  • 8.6 APG

Kawhi Leonard: 2020-2021 season

  • 24.8 PPG
  • 6.5 RPG
  • 5.2 APG

Where should the money go?

The 4 seed for the Clippers is a bit misleading as they are better than their record indicates. Let’s not forget that the Mavericks struggled to claw their way back up into the playoff picture after flirting with the possibility of the play-in tournament. 

CLIPPERS 

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2021 NBA Playoffs: East First Round – (2) Brooklyn Nets vs (7) Boston Celtics

Daily Staff Picks

East First Round – (2) Brooklyn Nets vs (7) Boston Celtics – Series preview

(2) Brooklyn Nets

I don’t know where to really write to you about what a season the Brooklyn Nets got themselves into. However, I can say it made out all the better for them to this point. First-year Head Coach, Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni sitting on his bench. Ah, the Head Coach that led James Harden and the Rockets? Yep, the same guy. Let’s get these names out the way next like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Blake Griffin. There is a lot of hardware and rings gloating around these names.

Here is the thing. I know folks are wary of Brooklyn early on in the playoffs and some of it is just wishful thinking that Brooklyn is very vulnerable. The only thing to me that makes this team vulnerable is the fact of health. But you could literally say that about any other team, right? Well, that’s the point. A healthy Nets team is one that the regular season never saw. Another thing I wouldn’t question? How well KD, Kyrie, and Harden play together. At this point in their careers, the experience and success are a nod to favor them even more.

The Nets had a rotating roster of All-Stars in and out of the season and still secured the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets also managed to finish one game behind the 76ers for the 1st seed and had the 4th best record in the 2020-2021 NBA season.

(7) Boston Celtics

Boston spent Tuesday night tooling around with the Wizards just to prove that Jayson Tatum can help you win ball games without his right-hand man Jaylen Brown. Not that we needed to be proven any further but something about a Play-in Tournament. Anyways, as the 7th seed BEFORE the tournament and after the tournament the Celtics are faced with one of the toughest series one can imagine. The three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Should they have swallowed some pride and “tank” for the 8th seed against Philadelphia instead?

Brad Stevens after beating the Wizards said, “It’s really hard to make the NBA playoffs,” Stevens said. “Those guys are the best of the best. Going into that, if I’m a fan, a general fan of the NBA, I have a hard time seeing them lose.” Now your Head Coach is probably being brutally honest but I’m here for it. You know you’re down one of your All-Stars in Jaylen Brown. Stevens understands his team isn’t the best team on paper against Brooklyn.

Do we say Boston takes one or two games? Evan Fournier enters the chat as the next best potential scorer for the Celtics behind their top two available players Tatum and Kemba Walker. The frontcourt for the Celtics features Tatum, Tristian Thompson, Grant Williams, and Aaron Nesmith to potentially slow down the Nets super team. The glaring hole in size for the Celtics and loss of Jaylen Brown makes up for the disappointing year for Boston.



Top players to watch

Jayson Tatum: 2020-2021 season

  • 26.4 PPG
  • 7.4 RPG
  • 4.3 APG

Kevin Durant: 2020-2021 season

  • 26.9 PPG
  • 7.1 RPG
  • 5.6 APG

Where should the money go?

The Brooklyn NETS – in 4

Let’s keep this short and sweet and move on to the next round. I’m hungry for the Giannis vs KD showdowns we got a preview of last month.

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
BKN leads 1-0

5/22/21

8:00 PM ET

ABC

Celtics - 93
Nets - 104

Game 2:
BKN leads 2-0

5/25/21

7:30 PM ET

TNT

Celtics - 108
Nets - 130

Game 3:
BKN leads 2-1

5/28/21

8:30 PM ET

ABC

Nets - 119
Celtics - 125

Game 4: BKN leads 3-1

5/30/21

7:00 PM ET

TNT

Nets - 141
Celtics - 126

Game 5:
BKN wins series 4-1

6/01/21

7:30 PM ET

TNT

Celtics - 109
Nets - 123

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2018 NBA Playoff Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz

No. 4 OKC Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

2018 Playoff Preview and Prediction

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s playoff time in the NBA, and I’ve got what you need to know for one of the best opening round matchups. OKC has the triple double machine in Russell Westbrook leading the charge while the Jazz look to ride the wave of their rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell. On paper, it would seem that OKC with their veteran core of Westbrook-Carmelo Anthony-Paul George would be the heavy favorites in this series. However, the Jazz has won 17 of 21 heading into the playoffs and with Rudy Gobert back their defense is galvanized. Let’s look at some key points heading into the series.

Regular Season Matchup

The Thunder took the season series between the two teams 3-1. The Thunder won their games by an average of 16 points, while the Jazz happened to squeak by a 9 point win against them. The lone Jazz win against the Thunder they held Westbrook to under 10 points that game. All four of these games happened last calendar year, and the two teams haven’t met since December. Since then, the two teams have projected up, especially the Jazz. Therefore it could be said that the regular season matchups could not be indicative of what will happen in the playoffs.

Jazz Keys to Winning

Offense

The Jazz doesn’t have the superstar firepower on their roster like much of the top western conference teams can boast. Mitchell leads the team with 20.5 ppg with no one else averaging 20+. The Jazz is going to have to scheme a good offensive plan to keep pace with the Thunder. Keeping Westbrook from hounding Mitchell all game will be pivotal for their offense. So I expect to see a lot of screens with Mitchell, not too much unlike their regular season plan. However, they’re going to need to find a reliable second option to keep the offense in tempo.

Rodney Hood is going to need to be able to create some offense and probably up his 16.8 ppg regular season average to around 20. The Jazz will have to look to their bench to keep the score close while the Thunder’s starting lineup is off the floor. Utah does have Joe Johnson coming off the bench, and he somehow always finds a way to step it up in the playoffs. If Iso Joe and a newly revitalized Marco Rubio can anchor the bench, their offense may not be in as much trouble as it may seem.

Defensively

Rudy Gobert, the best anchor in the league, is going to have to be at that level every night. He’ll be posted up against Steven Adams, a fantastic post player. If that wasn’t enough Westbrook will be slashing and attacking the rim every night. Jae Crowder will likely have to be doing duty on both Anthony and George to keep a body on them at all times.

If Gobert can stay out of foul trouble, the team should be excellent defensively. They’ll need to make sure that Gobert stays in the paint on most possessions. OKC has a plethora of guys who can get to the rim, and the Jazz will need to truncate any easy points OKC wishes to obtain.

Thunder Keys to Winning

Offense

Russell Westbrook dominating is going to happen. The problem is who will be the Robin to his Batman? Paul George over the last month has been averaging 20 ppg to go with his better defensive play. If he can keep this up, then the Jazz will have a harder time deciding where they can shore up on defense. Carmello Anthony is currently averaging 16.2 ppg heading into the playoffs. However, it’s coming on 40% shooting. If he can up that to at least 45%, he and George can punish whoever Crowder isn’t guarding.

A big key to the Thunder offense is if they can grab a reasonable rate of offensive rebounds. Controlling possessions in this series will be crucial for the Thunder as the Jazz defense is very stout. The Thunder don’t shoot the best percentage from the field in the league, so more opportunities will allow them to keep their usual pace going. Offensive rebounds also allow for more ball movement, something the Thunder will need to keep the Jazz defense on its heel.

The Thunder’s bench is also going to need to step it up. They’re averaging 26.4 ppg, and I’d like to see that average go up to 32-35 ppg. There are times when the offense gets stagnant from the bench if none of the starters are in the lineup. If Westbrook can be afforded some time off the floor this series, it would bode well for the Thunder going forward if he’s more rested.

Defense

Keep Westbrook on Mitchell. Mitchell is going to be the motor of the Jazz’s offense, but he’s going against the man with an infinite engine in Westbrook. I can’t imagine a time where Westbrook would not be hounding Mitchell when he’s in the game. Dropping him from 20 ppg to 15 would be devastating to the Jazz offense.

Creating turnovers will also be a massive boon for the Thunder in this series. The Jazz is going to need to keep pace in scoring with OKC, but with Westbrook and George hounding the passing lanes, a dry spot from the Jazz can mean the game for OKC. Adams down low will have to keep out of foul trouble with Gobert. This Thunder lineup isn’t like last year where Kanter could come in to keep a big rim protector on the floor. Should Adams get in foul trouble, Nick Collison and Dakari Johnson will need to be able to keep up with Gobert? Should Gobert’s average climb from 13.5 ppg, the Thunder will be in trouble in the paint.

Conclusion

The Jazz and Thunder are more or less the opposite teams on paper. This is going to be a series of X-factors and who can be more consistent on offense this whole series. The Jazz will need to find an answer to containing the rest of the Thunder around Westbrook, and if they can this series will be in their favor. However, if Westbrook and co. can keep on the gas, as usual, this series will likely go in their favor as the Jazz offensive capabilities can stutter at times.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 Games.

Westbrook celebrating

Peace.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor and Host of The Heels of Wrestling Podcast. Battle Rap aficionado. Follow me @MXMurden and @TheHowPod

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