NBA preview

NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers locked in gripping ties

While some of the first-round playoff matches look like being resolved before Game 7, there are some that could go right down to the wire. We will preview this week’s games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns, and the Los Angeles Clippers v the Dallas Mavericks. We will also discuss any potential talking points, and check in on the odds.

Los Angeles Lakers need pick up after Game 4 defeat

For the Lakers, who are the reigning NBA champions, things have been far from plain sailing. Indeed, with a half-fit LeBron James, and an out-of-sorts Anthony Davis, they have struggled to play with their usual panache. Although James stepped things up in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and posted figures of 25 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists, it wasn’t enough.

At one point, the Suns surged into a 16-point lead before prevailing 100-92. Five Suns players, including Chris Paul, reached double figures points-wise in Game 4. While James showed brute strength, the Suns have had the Lakers’ number at times throughout this playoff tie, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it went to Game 7.

While Davis has failed to shine in the playoffs, he is still an undoubted star of the Lakers team. However, he is poised to miss Game 5 after an MRI scan earlier this week confirmed he picked up a groin injury. However, the Lakers will be hoping Davis could be back in time for Game 6.

Chris Paul reaches special milestone for Phoenix Suns

Paul’s contributions to the Suns can never be understated. And in Game 4, Paul produced a great steal on Marc Gasol. Now, Paul has moved into the 18th spot with 236 steals in the NBA Playoffs. But he still has some way to go to catch James, who tops this list with 452 steals.

No love lost between Jae Crowder and LeBron James

When it comes to playoff basketball, there is little love lost between James and Jae Crowder. It dates back to James’ second spell with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And in Game 4, things were no different. Just as James tried to get his shot off, Crowder blocked him before staring down the NBA great, and the referee intervened to prevent things from turning ugly.

Los Angeles Clippers haul themselves back into the contest

Things looked rather ominous for the Clippers when the Mavericks raced into a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Clippers have bounced back in style. In Game 3, the Clippers won 118-108, and then in Game 4 earlier this week, they surged to a 106-81 blowout victory. The momentum definitely seems to be with the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard was on fire, posting figures of 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul George weighed in with 20 points and nine rebounds. Although Luka Doncic managed 19 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks, they have been unable to answer the questions asked of them in the past two games. If they’re not careful, the Mavericks could see their playoff chances fade quickly.

Whereas, the Mavericks will need to bring their A-game to the table on Wednesday evening. In Game 4, they shot just 5-for-30 from the 3-point range. This represents a game season-low of 16.7% for them whereas before they were just over 18% for field-goal attempts. This simply isn’t good enough if they want to make progress in the playoffs.

Are things beginning to catch up with the Mavericks?

Although the Mavericks finished fifth in the regular season, they have been a real mixed bag. While Luka Doncic has made them an excellent offensive team, and he has averaged over 33 points in the series against the Clippers, things can quickly unravel if the Mavericks are not at their best on the floor.

If anything, there has been an overreliance on Doncic. More worryingly, the Mavericks’ defence is a serious flaw. In the regular season, they finished 22nd in the defensive stats. Of all the franchises involved in the postseason matches, only Boston Celtics have had worse defensive stats. At the moment, the Mavericks’ defence is having fits and bursts which won’t quell a rampant Clippers.

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