Mavericks waste huge gift in Game 1 loss to Clippers

Apr 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) signals
Apr 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) signals / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks began their 2024 NBA Playoff journey in a series that every fan begged for; a series against the LA Clippers.

Many people wanted the Mavs to play the Clippers so they could get revenge for the playoff losses in 2020 and 2021 despite this being one of the worst possible matchups for the Mavs.

This matchup was one of the most highly-anticipated first-round series of the entire playoffs, and the Mavs were at a big advantage going into this game because Kawhi Leonard was out with a knee injury.

Mavericks waste gift of Kawhi Leonard being out in Game 1 loss to Clippers

The uncertainty with Leonard's knee injury was an ideal situation for the Mavs, but they couldn't take advantage of this as they lost 109-97.

It was an uphill battle from the opening tip to the final buzzer and James Harden dominated in the first half. Harden finished with 20 points in the first half and was getting anything he wanted on the offensive end. P.J. Washington did a good job while guarding Harden, but Harden was hunting switches and getting more favorable matchups.

Until the middle of the third quarter, Dallas' offense had little to no flow. It seemed like everyone was standing and watching Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving and the role players couldn't knock down any of their open shots.

Irving ended up having an incredible third quarter as he finished with 20 points in that quarter alone, but no one outside of him could get anything going outside of him and Doncic.

The Clippers' offense was absolutely nuclear in this game and the Mavs had no answer for Harden or Ivica Zubac. Zubac was scoring around the bucket whenever he wanted and even Daniel Gafford couldn't contain him in the paint.

The Mavs battled back in the third and fourth quarters to make this game somewhat respectable, but the first half from Dallas was the worst half of the entire season. Dallas had no pop, and rather than them setting the tone, LA did.

Dallas wasted the gift of having Kawhi Leonard out of the lineup, and the Mavs must find a way to tie the series before heading back home.

Dallas' next game against the Clippers is on Tuesday.

For all the latest on Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs, stay tuned.