The No. 5 seed Dallas Mavericks face a familiar opponent in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs, taking on the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers. The two teams met in last season’s playoffs with Los Angeles winning the series 4-2.
Mavericks keys to victory
The Mavericks feel they missed out on a big opportunity last season due to Kristaps Porzingis’ injury late in the series. The matchup was level 2-2 on Luka Doncic’s game-winning shot in Game 4, but the Mavs lacked the necessary firepower without Porzingis. Everyone should be healthy this time around, but the Clippers are on a mission. Dallas will need strong performances from role players like Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway and Josh Richardson in order to pull off the upset.
Dallas struggles defensively, but has the ninth-most efficient offense in the league. If Doncic can continue to keep the Mavericks in good situations at that end of the floor, the Clippers can occasionally get cold from the field. This could give Dallas some openings early in the series and it’ll be up to Doncic to take advantage of those. A surprise win in the first two games could help Dallas get some early momentum before going home for Games 3 and 4.
Mavericks vs. Clippers series odds
The Mavericks are underdogs in this series despite having a relatively clean bill of health. Doncic is ascending into the top tier of NBA players and this is another chance for him to show he can be the best player on the floor in a series filled with stars. It’ll be a tough ask, but the Mavericks have the ability to spring an upset if they can take a game early.
NBA Championship odds
Even with Doncic and Porzingis, the Mavericks are not high on the list of NBA title contenders. The complementary players aren’t up there with top teams and Porzingis will still need to prove he’s a true star. Dallas is essentially playing with house money while Doncic continues to get postseason experience before truly being ready to contend for a title.
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