The cruse of the Los Angeles Clippers looms with the squad down 3-2 against the Dallas Mavericks. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are on the brink of elimination in a must-win Game 6 against Luka Doncic and the Mavs in Dallas.

Luka Doncic Kawhi Leonard NBA Playoffs Dallas Mavericks LA Clippers Mavs Boban
Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots over Dorian Finney-Smith (10) and Boban Marjanovic (51) during Game 5 at the Staples Center in LA. (Image: LA Times)

The Clippers have horrible luck in the postseason, which has been dubbed the Clippers Curse by fans, gamblers, and beat writers. The Clippers typically bust in the first or second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Game 6: #4 Dallas Mavericks (3-2) vs. #5 LA Clippers (2-3)
  • Tip-off: 6 pm PT
  • Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
  • Point Spread: LAC -3
  • Total: 216.5
  • Money Line: DAL +130 / LAC -145
  • Series Line: LAC +135 / DAL -167

The road team has won every game in the Clippers/Mavs series thus far. The Mavs won Game 1, Game 2, and Game 5 in Los Angeles. The Clippers notched back-to-back wins in Dallas in Games 3 and 4. The Mavs won Game 5, which gave them a historical edge. In NBA playoff history, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series 85% of the time.

The Mavs are a +3 home dog against the Clippers in Game 6 while the Clippers are a +135 underdog to come back and win the series. The Mavs are -167 odds to defeat the Clippers and advance to the Western Conference semifinals, where the top-ranked Utah Jazz await.

The Clippers saw their NBA championship title odds slip to +1200, according to a recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Mavs are still the long shot on the futures board at +3300 odds.

Luka Doncic: Slovenian wunderkind

Doncic put on another epic performance in Game 5’s victory over the Clippers. Despite a strained neck, Doncic accounted for nearly 84% of the Mavs total offense, which set a playoff record. He scored or assisted on 31 out of the Mavs’ 37 made field goals. Doncic missed another triple-double with 42 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds.

Doncic averages 35 points, 9.4 assists, and eight rebounds per game against the Clippers in this series. He’s outplaying Kawhi, who’s also having a strong series, averaging 30.4 ppg.

“He’s just a warrior-type guy who just happens to be one of the greatest players in the world,” said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle.

“It’s big games, you got to play hard,” said Doncic. “You got to play with heart.”

Carlisle and Clippers head coach Ty Lue were playing chess with their lineups in the last few games. Carlisle switched up his defense in Game 5 in an effort to slow down Kawhi and thwart Lue’s small-ball lineup.

In Game 5, the Mavs started backup center Boban Marjanovic (7-foot-4) alongside Kristaps Porzingis (7-foot-3) in the Dallas version of the Twin Towers. The Mavs stuffed the paint to prevent easy layups from Kawhi. They played a 3-2 zone defense and forced Kawhi and the Clippers to beat them from the perimeter. The big lineup worked; Kawhi shot 1-for-7 from 3-point range and scored just 20 points in a Game 5 loss.

LA Clippers: Do or die for Kawhi and PG-13

Lue juggled his lineup after the Clippers fell into a 0-2 hole. He benched Patrick Beverly and started Reggie Jackson instead. Jackson scored at least 15 points in the last four games after he saw an expanded role with Beverly’s erratic play and an unimpressive stint from Rajon Rondo.

In Game 4’s 25-point victory, Lue utilized a smaller lineup. Starting center Ivan Zubac came off the bench, and the Clippers started forward Nicolas Batum. So, what will Lue do to counter the Texas Twin Towers? The Clippers haven’t tipped their hand for Game 6.

Tale of the Tape: Luka Doncic vs. Kawhi Leonard
PPG Assists Rebounds
Luka Doncic 35.0 9.4 8.0
Kawhi Leonard 30.4 4.0 7.8

“We’re confident we can extend the series and bring this back home, said Paul George. “It’s going to be another hard environment for us to go into. It’s what we’ve got to do.”

“We got down 0-2 on our own floor, went to Texas, won two tough games,” said Lue. “We’re going to have to do the same thing again.”

If the Clippers win Game 6 to extend the series, the Clips will host the Mavs in Game 7 on Sunday evening.

Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.