LA Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks Game 6 Preview and Prediction

The LA Clippers could put an end to their first round series with the Dallas Mavericks with a win on Sunday afternoon.
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Last we saw the LA Clippers, they hung a franchise-record 154 points on the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5. It was about as dominant as we'd seen them look all year long — hitting a stride at the perfect time.

That was last Tuesday.

In the time between, we've seen NBA players make unprecedented decisions by refusing to participate in games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and holding several meetings to discuss the future of the season. 

All the while, personalities on networks like NBA TV and TNT were beginning to have necessary conversations about ongoing social issues in this country. Sam Mitchell spoke about how we only seem to come together as Americans in wartime. Chris Webber teared up while discussing the protests. Kenny Smith walked off the NBA on TNT set in solidarity with the Milwaukee Bucks.

These conversations were a start — and ones that would not have taken place had the league's players decided not to take action. 

Now that we're heading back into the thick of LA's first-round series, it's vital that we don't lose sight of that.

Injury Report

Looking solely at the basketball side of things, it looks like this break has done a lot of good for the LA Clippers, as Patrick Beverley could suit up this afternoon for the first time since the series-opener.

Beverley has missed the last four games with a calf strain, and each time, he's had the "doubtful" tag attached to him on the team's injury report. But on Saturday afternoon, his status was upgraded to "questionable" — a sign that he may play in Game 6. 

Landry Shamet has been the main beneficiary of Beverley's absence, as he's earned the starting nod in each of the last three games. He's seen success there as well, averaging over 12 points per game while shooting 50% or better from the floor and three-point range. 

That said, Beverley is one of the most important players on the team, and his presence is certainly missed — especially on the defensive end of the floor.

If he is able to take the floor, expect the Clippers to look like a more cohesive group from the get-go. This team always plays its best basketball with Beverley out there.

The Dallas Mavericks, on the other hand, have drawn the short end of the stick, as Kristaps Porzingis has been ruled out for the remainder of the series with a torn meniscus. 

It's a tough blow for Dallas, as Porzingis had been playing some of his best basketball in the season in Orlando, earning All-Bubble Second Team honors. 

Dallas has also listed Trey Burke, Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. as "questionable" with various injuries, though none of them seem to be serious.

Key Storylines

LA: Can the Clippers Maintain the Urgency?

In Game 5, the LA Clippers looked definitively better than the Dallas Mavericks for the first time in this series. It was refreshing.

LA came out of the gate playing aggressive, energetic basketball and didn't let up for the entirety of the contest, as the lead grew as each quarter went on. The team's 43-point victory was the largest in a playoff game in franchise history.

Now that the Clippers have shown what they're capable of, it's crucial that they maintain that intensity as this series — and the postseason — continues. 

LA may have dominated Game 5 and proved which team is best in this series, but Dallas is still very much in position to take this thing to Game 7 and win it.

Dallas: Luka, Mavericks Have Already Surpassed Expectations

If Dallas is going to win this series (or at least Game 6), it's going to be because of Luka Doncic.

The 21-year-old phenom has already shown an ability to take over games in this series, as he gave us an unforgettable performance (43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists) in Game 5 that was capped-off by a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime. 

He's arguably been the best player in this series, and that's something he'll need to continue to be if the Mavericks are going to extend this series — especially with Porzingis sidelined.

That said, nobody should discredit Doncic if his team isn't able to get it done. This Clippers group is historically great and has one of the league's greatest postseason performers in Kawhi Leonard on the roster. Many people, including myself, thought this series would be over in five games.

Doncic and the Mavericks have already exceeded expectations, and they'll continue to be a problem for years to come.

Prediction

Dallas is an excellent team and Doncic is an even more excellent player, but after playing one of their best games in the history of the franchise last Tuesday, it's hard to see the Clippers letting Game 6 go. 

This group finally seems motivated and is showing that edge we've been waiting to see all season long. With as many strong-willed players as LA has on the roster, a loss this afternoon would be stunning.

Clippers 130, Mavericks 113

How to Watch

The LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks will take the floor at 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will air on ESPN and Fox Sports Prime Ticket.