Key matchup in Dallas Mavericks vs. LA Clippers series: 3. Kawhi vs. Doe-Doe
Kawhi Leonard torched the Mavs in the playoffs last year. He had 29 points or more in all six games. The Klaw produced 32.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.3 steals in 39.1 minutes per game. He shot 53.8 percent from the field and 85.5 percent on his free throws. The Mavericks had no answer to slow him down.
Fans will remember Dallas inserted Maxi Kleber into the starting lineup and used him as the primary defender on Leonard until Kristaps Porzingis got hurt. It puts Kleber’s current injury under the microscope. The Mavs get an important five days to rest, thanks to the play-in tournament, but Maxi has sat out two straight games and not looked himself in others. There is plenty of cause of concern there.
Coach Rick Carlisle will likely use Dorian Finney-Smith on Kawhi and Tim Hardaway Jr. on Paul George in the series. Leonard was nine of 23 from the field with Doe-Doe matched up against him during their 2020 playoff series, according to NBA Stats. That is by far the best mark of any Maverick.
Slowing down Kawhi Leonard will be job number one for the Dallas Mavericks. Expect the burden to fall primarily on Dorian Finney-Smith’s shoulders. His success or failure will go a long way in determining the series.
Next: No. 2