Dallas Mavericks look to keep rolling ahead of playoff matchup with the LA Clippers

The Dallas Mavs will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs for the third time in five seasons and Luka Doncic answered what made this team different from previous iterations.

“We have Kai.” said Doncic, “We have great [team] chemistry, we’re playing great together.”

Kai is Kyrie Irving, who finished one of the best regular seasons of his career, averaging 5.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds while shooting 41.1% from three-point range.

Irving has helped the Mavs become one of the NBA’s hottest teams heading into the postseason with a 16-4 record over their last 20 games.

The defense has gone from one of the league’s worst to the best in the NBA over the past 15 games with the No. 1 defensive rating (106.1) over that span.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said the team has to continue playing defense at an elite level.

“They’re well coached, [Tyron Lue] is one of the best coaches in the league and just understanding that, you know, if you’re trying to get these guys to their second or third move, but they’re still good enough to make those shots,” said Kidd, “We’ve shown that we can play defense at a high level, now it’s a matter of doing it during the playoffs.

Doncic has yet to beat the Clippers in a playoff series and knows beating a team with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George four times is no easy feat.

“I mean, those two, they play well together and everybody knows what they can do offensively and defensively,” said Doncic, “Every game is going to be tough.”

P.J. Washington said he hadn’t watched much of the previous playoff series between the Mavs and the Clippers since he wasn’t in the playoffs during those seasons.

However, the mid-season acquisition will get a chance to see the Clippers up close when the Mavs begin their first-round series with the Clippers on Sunday at Arena.

Washington shared advice that Mavs players gave as the playoffs quickly approach.

“The games are going to be a lot more physical, every possession matters and the most [important] part we just gotta stick together and be positive,” said Washington.

Kidd said newcomers to the playoffs like Washington will be able to rely on veterans like Irving and Doncic who have made deep runs into the playoffs.

“There are quite a few guys that have experience but I think when you look at the group [Daniel Gafford] and PJ, they’re going to lean on those guys too,” said Kidd, “That’s how we’re built is for these guys to ask questions but also listen.”

The Mavs will have an opportunity to show the league that their late-season surge was a sign of what is to come and not a late-season hot streak.

“You want to go against the best and we have opportunity to go against the Clippers,” said Kidd, “We consider them one of the best teams in the league.”