Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers will battle the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of their first round series Sunday. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- The Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers battle in Game 7 Sunday for a trip to the second round
- No team has won a home game the entire series
- Get the odds, preview, and pick below
We’re already in unchartered territory in this spectacular first round NBA Playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers.
What do they have in store for Game 7?
Kawhi Leonard went full Terminator mode in Game 6 to deliver a pivotal 104-97 win, marking the first time in NBA history the road team had won the first six games of a playoff series. But oddsmakers are expecting the trend to end Sunday, as they’ve listed the Clippers as 6.5-point home favorites to advance to the next round, where the Utah Jazz are waiting.
Mavericks vs Clippers Game 7 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Dallas Mavericks||+6.5 (-114)||+215||Ov 210 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-6.5 (-106)||-260||Un 210 (-110)|
Odds as of June 5. Tip-off is Sunday at 3:30pm ET
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Luka Doncic (neck) and Maxi Kleber (Achilles) are on the injury list, but are probable for Game 7. On the LA side, Clippers big man Serge Ibaka is still dealing with a back injury and is doubtful.
Mavericks vs Clippers Projected Starting Lineups
|Luka Doncic||PG||Reggie Jackson|
|Tim Hardaway Jr||SG||Paul George|
|Dorian Finney-Smith||SF||Kawhi Leonard|
|Kristaps Porzingis||PF||Nicolas Batum|
|Boban Marjanovic||C||Marcus Morris Sr|
This is the Kawhi Leonard LA’s other fanbase was fawning about when he signed with the Clips.
In a must-win that had franchise break-up potential in a loss, Kawhi was King, putting together one of the all-time great elimination game perforances we’ve seen. He finished with 45 points on 18-for-25 shooting from the field, also adding six rebounds, three assists, two steals, while drilling five three-balls.
KAWHI LEONARD GOING OFF WITH THE SEASON ON THE LINE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cy2MeGC6B0
— ESPN (@espn) June 5, 2021
Leonard also came up big in the fourth, potting 12 points to put this game on ice. He sought out Doncic on switches to go to work, and was relentless with a variety of buckets to sink the Mavs.
Even more impressive was his work on the other end of the floor. The Clippers stayed away from that switch-everything mode, keeping Kawhi as the Luka primary defender. He refused most switches, unless it was Marcus Morris Sr. Doncic shot just 2-for-6 when guarded by Leonard, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information.
Kawhi Leonard is the 2nd player to average 30 points and 60% shooting through his first 6 games of a postseason, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kareem did this 3 times. pic.twitter.com/qtxeSjUpno
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 5, 2021
Loenard got enough help from wingman Paul George, who chipped in 20 points, 13 boards and six dimes, while Reggie Jackson was key in the first quarter, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Luka and Who?
For the first time perhaps in his short and impressive playoff history, Doncic looked fatigued, and didn’t have the juice from Game 5, when he poured in 42 points, 14 asissts and eight rebounds to push the Clippers to the brink.
Highest playoff PPG of all time (min 10 games):
33.4 — Michael Jordan
32.8 — Luka Doncic pic.twitter.com/f7xclDMXiy
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 3, 2021
He finished with 29 points on 11-for-24 from the field, and hit just 2-for-9 from deep. The 22-year-old could not find the range, and couldn’t get to his spots as he usually does with Kawhi staying in front of him. He’s also logging just under 40 minutes a night in this series.
As a team, the Mavericks are hitting an offensive brick wall. This is the second time in three games they’ve failed to crack the 100-point plateau, and they’re averaging just 94.3 points. That’s a major dropoff from the first three games, when they were putting up 116 points.
Tim Hardaway Jr. this playoffs:
— 18.0 PPG
— 3.7 3PG
— 45.8 3P%
Kristaps Porzingis this playoffs:
— 12.7 PPG
— 1.3 3PG
— 36.4 3P%
Which player was thrown into the other player’s trade again? pic.twitter.com/BP8N1eCikr
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 5, 2021
Dallas is going to need another release valve for Doncic aside from Tim Hardaway Jr, who finished with 23 in Game 6, and is averaging 18 points in this series. Kristaps Porzingis, who actually came to the Mavs as the centrepiece of a trade with Hardaway as the throw-in, has been a total non-factor in this series. He finished with seven points in Game 6. He’s averaging 12.7 points this series.
What’s the Best Bet?
The depth and talent of the Clippers seems to finally be wearing down the weaker Mavs roster. Rick Carlisle has already made his move, inserting Boban Marjanovich into the starting lineup and going big. LA took some time to adjust, but they’re working Boban off the floor, consistently attacking him in pick-and-roll play.
This series has already shattered all the laws of averages, but it seems unlikely that no home team takes a game in this series.
Still, I think Doncic empties the holster in this one, and it’s going to take a Kawhi+George mega-effort to outlast him. That should land them the win, but not the cover.
Pick: Mavericks +6.5 (-114)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.