During his postgame press conference following the final game of the regular season, LA Clippers Head Coach Tyronn Lue discussed some of the strategies his team hopes to implement against their first-round playoff matchup, the Dallas Mavericks.
“We know we’re playing a guy who controls the whole tempo of the game, in Luka [Doncic], by scoring, rebounding, passing, making his teammates better,” Lue said. “We know he’s the head of the snake...We can’t let him be comfortable. Just keep mixing it up throughout the course of the game. Blitz him a little bit...switching on him a little bit. We want to keep him off balance as much as possible.”
Doncic has been sensational once again this season, averaging 27.7 points, 8.6 assists and eight rebounds per game. He’s also increased his efficiency from last year, shooting career-highs from the field (47.9%) and from three-point range (35%).
Lue and the Clippers obviously have last year’s playoff matchup against these same Mavericks to turn to as a blueprint for success. However, the Mavericks were without their second-best player in Kristaps Porzingis for three of those six games back in the bubble due a torn lateral meniscus. Porzingis was excellent when available in last year’s series, averaging 23.7 points and shooting 52.9% from three.
“We know Porzingis is back, he’s healthy, so he poses a problem, especially being 7’1, 7’2, being able to shoot the ball the way he does,” Lue said postgame. “Also be able to post up, roll, pop. They do a lot of different things.”
Lue was also sure to show respect to Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle, who has been leading the team for thirteen years and coached them to a championship back in 2011. Carlisle also holds the record for most wins by a Mavericks coach in franchise history.
“Of course, you know Rick Carlisle is a Hall-of-Fame coach who also is big for that team as well,” Lue said. “We know we have our hands full, we know they’re a good team. They’ve been playing great this year, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
It has yet to be revealed exactly when game 1 will tip, but it will be sometime on either Saturday or Sunday, after the Play-In tournament concludes.