5 Reasons the Mavericks will crush the Clippers in first round of playoffs

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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2. Mavericks are getting healthy at the right time

The biggest question mark heading into this series is the availability of Kawhi Leonard for the LA Clippers. Leonard has been dealing with right knee inflammation that's kept him out since March 31, ironically the last time that Mavericks' rookie Dereck Lively II played in a game as well. However, Dallas seems to be much more certain with Lively II's availability ahead of game one compared to how certain the Clippers are in regards to Leonard returning by then.

Lively II was a full participant in practice during Dallas' last practice, whilst Leonard still hasn't been cleared for 5-on-5 activity according to Clippers' head coach Tyronn Lue. All signs are pointing toward the Mavericks having a fully healthy roster for the first round of the playoffs, while the Clippers may see their best player miss one or more games.

Even if Leonard makes a return, there's always the possibility that he could re-aggravate his knee in this series, as Leonard's one mark of inconsistency in his career has been his durability, especially come playoff time. For fans and everyone involved in this series, it would be a travesty to see Leonard miss significant time, as we'd all like everyone to be healthy as well as the most competitive series possible.

However, if Leonard's health isn't meeting the idealistic standard, then the Mavericks could have a far easier series than originally anticipated. Without Leonard the Clippers likely don't have enough shot-creation or defense to beat the Mavericks, as Leonard's versatility on both ends will be paramount for the Clippers if they want to beat the red-hot Mavericks in a seven-game series.

The same argument could be made that Lively II may re-aggravate his knee in this series, but Dallas has proven that they can survive stretches with just one of Gafford or Lively II available if need be. The Clippers would undoubtedly test that thesis in a playoff series, but it goes without saying that Leonard is more vital to the Clippers success than Lively II is for the Mavericks success, which isn't a knock on Lively II whatsoever. If Leonard misses any time, then Dallas has to take advantage of his absence, as we've seen Leonard's ability to swing a series beforehand as Mavericks fans.