Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks NBA Conference Quarterfinals Preview
On a much more level playing field, the Dallas Mavericks are now ready to avenge their first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
In the NBA bubble near Orlando a year ago, the seventh-seeded Mavericks were knocked out by the second-seeded Clippers in six games.
On Friday, the No. 5 Mavericks can end the No. 4 Clippers' season with a Game 6 win at Dallas.
And while the opportunity to finish the series on their own turf seems like everything has gone perfectly for the Mavericks, this year's game has been anything but normal. Dallas built a 3-2 series lead, and every win so far has gone to the visiting team.
The last time the first five NBA Playoff games went to the road was in the 1995 Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.
The difference factor for Dallas on Wednesday was, of course, Luka Doncic, who scored 12 of his 42 points in a decisive third quarter as the Mavericks edged the Clippers 33-21 to take an 89-75 lead. Dallas closed the period with a 16-0 sprint amid a larger 22-3 streak.
Limited by neck strain in a Game 4 loss, Doncic was much more agile in Game 5, with his team able to withstand his 1-for-8 shot from the field in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Clippers still had their chances. Trailing 101-91 with 2:13 to go, Los Angeles converted a tight points defense on a 9-0 streak that cut the deficit to just one point with 39.5 seconds left per game, three points behind Kawhi Leonard.
The Clippers were even lucky enough to take the lead late after a steal from Terance Mann, but on a team with Leonard and Paul George, it was Mann and Nicolas Batum who tried to complete a counterattack when Mann nearly threw the ball. and Batum missed a contested shot inside with just under 10 seconds to go.
Leonard's well-guarded three-point attempt to tie the game with 4.9 seconds left failed. After that, it was the third quarter that Leonard regretted the most.
The Clippers were 8 of 21 (38.1%) on the floor in the third quarter when they had five of their 12 turnovers. Leonard was 2 of 7 on the field in the third.
He now he returns to Dallas, where the Clippers know they can win. However, the difference from his road win in Game 4 will be a healthier Doncic.
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