If the Clippers want to go far in the playoffs, they'll need to play Ivica Zubac more.
One of the Clippers' brightest spots in the series against the Mavericks was the play of Ivica Zubac. In six games against the Dallas Mavericks, Zubac was a +78 overall. Here were his stats each game:
Game 1: 10 PTS, 10 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 5/9 FGs, 22:20 min, +17
Game 2: 3 PTS, 4 REB, 1/2 FGs, 18:11 min, -4
Game 3: 15 PTS, 6 REB, 1 BLK, 6/8 FGs, 29:39 min, +13
Game 4: 15 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 5/9 FGs, 21:36 min, +9
Game 5: 9 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 2/2 FGs, 23:37 min, +10
Game 6: 15 PTS, 11 REB, 6/8 FGs, 33 min, +33
Dallas Totals: 11.2 PTS, 7.0 REB, 0.8 BLK, 68.5% FG, 24.8 MPG
Last season against the Warriors, Zubac didn't play at all in Games 4 & 5, and barely played in Game 6. It seemed like he wasn't ready for the playoffs, but that wasn't the case this year. Doc Rivers said Zubac "had the playoff of his life" against the Mavericks. A statement Zubac found hilarious, but agreed with.
Zubac's play earned the respect of not only his coach, but of his All-Star teammates. Kawhi Leonard knows Zubac is worth more than what the box score may say.
"It was a big series for him," Leonard said. "The numbers might not always show it, but his presence was amazing and him running the offense, finding his spots and that dunking spot and laying the ball up and making his free throws was very big."
Paul George echoed Kawhi's sentiments, but focused more on Zubac's ability to switch. Both players emphasized on how significant his presence was though.
"What brings so much value to Zub is a lot of teams want to switch," George said. "He gets little guys on him, he's going to dominate them, eliminate the switch. He's just got to have his presence out there. He's got to make his presence felt and just punish low guards and guys that want to switch on him."
Throughout the season, Doc Rivers seems to have a love-hate relationship with Zubac's minutes. Due to the match up, Zubac closed fourth quarters when he typically wouldn't have all regular season. Whoever the Clippers play next round, it'll be interesting to see if the young Croatian continues to finish games. Regardless, the Clippers need to play him more, if they want to go far in the playoffs.