Dallas Mavericks prepare to play LA Clippers and renew playoff rivalry

The NBA regular season concluded on Sunday and the first-round playoff matchups have been set. The Dallas Mavericks (50-32) claimed the No. 5 seed, avoiding the NBA Play-in Tournament, a year after failing to make the playoffs.

The Mavs will play the No. 4 seeded Los Angeles Clippers (51-31) in the playoffs for the third time in five years. The best-of-five series opens on Sunday in Los Angeles.

How did the Mavs fare in those series?

The first matchup came when the NBA had quarantined due to COVID-19 and created the NBA Bubble at Disney World. The Mavs looked differently with Kristaps Porzingis as the second star but the Latvian only played in three of the six games averaging 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 52% shooting from three-point range before being sidelined by a torn lateral meniscus.

The Mavs and Clippers split the first four games of the series including an overtime thriller the Mavs won 135-133 behind a monstrous 43-points, 17-rebound, 13-assist performance by Luka Doncic.

The Mavs lost the next two games by double digits including a 43-point game-five loss followed by a 111-97 loss in game six to win the series 4-2 and end Doncic’s first playoff run.

Their second matchup came in the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs and Luka Doncic dazzled in the first two playoff games leading the Mavs in points (70), rebounds (17) and assists (18) on his way to helping Dallas bring a 2-0 series lead to American Airlines Center.

However, the Clippers responded by winning the next two games to even the series including coming back from an almost 20-point deficit to win game three.

Luka Doncic came up big in game 5 scoring 42 points to give the Mavs a 3-2 series lead with a chance to advance, yet the Clippers rallied to win the series 4-3 after winning games 6 and 7.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers in game seven with a near triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Both teams scarcely resemble their previous rosters with the Mavs only returning three players, Doncic, Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber playing major minutes on both teams and replacing then-head coach Rick Carlisle with Jason Kidd.

The Clippers still have superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, critical role players Ivan Zubac, Terrance Mann, and head coach Tyron Lue.

The Mavs (-118) are favored going into the series according to DraftKings and the series should be among the most competitive in the first round of the NBA playoffs.