Yes, the Dallas Mavericks are good enough, when Luka Doncic spends a day as one of the five best basketball players on the planet, to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, as occurred in last Sunday's Game 4.
But the problem - well, one of the many - for Dallas Sunday in Game 6, down 3-2 in the series?
As good as the Mavs can be, the Clippers can be consistently better. And with the Game 5 bludgeoning of the Mavs by a score 154-111 as evidence, there is this mathematical reality:
In Sunday's Game 6 (a 2:30 CT tip), Paul George (in Game 5 a slump-busting 35 points) and Kawhi Leonard (an amazingly "quiet'' 32) can lead a Clippers team to be 42 points worse than it was on Tuesday ...
And it'd still be better than Dallas.
Yes, the majestic Doncic could limp around and be way better than he was in Game 5, when scored 22 points but was 6-of-17 shooting to get there.
Yes, Dallas could find a way to embrace the Kristaps Porzingis reality - he's out for the series and maybe more - and win because of it.
Yes, the Mavs could find themselves inspired by the NBA's decision to postpone the last few days of games due to the civil-rights movement ... and fight to use this platform to show themselves. (Of course, the Clippers and every other playoff team figures to be similarly inspired.)
Yes, George could again fall into a canyon or the NBA could rightfully punish the offensive Clippers combo of Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris and yes, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle could as he often does push some insane Trey Burke-like button and have it all work.
But as I say here in my national-radio conversation on "After Hours with Amy Lawrence,'' "One of the big problems is that the Clippers really are that much better than Dallas. There have been moments where it doesn’t look like that, but especially when Dallas is decimated by injuries and Porzingis has somewhat of a mysterious knee injury and then Luka is trying to labor through it on one leg, that just makes the Clippers look all the better.”
The Clippers in Game 5 shot a ridiculous 63.1 percent from the floor, including 22-of-35 (62.9 percent) from three-point range. “Some of that obviously was garbage time,” I point out, “and frankly, the Clippers probably rubbed it in to the point where if the Mavericks are good enough to be inspired in a vengeful way, that could help Dallas.''
But, I add, "Dallas’ defense is middle-of-the-pack. Their pace is so fast and their focus is so on offense that they win high-scoring games, and that is the way it’s going to be. There’s nothing wrong with scoring 111 points necessarily, especially when you don’t have a guy in Porzingis in there who scores 30 a game. But Rick Carlisle, ideally, would like to have opponents score 25 points per quarter – not 45 points per quarter.”
The Clippers in Game 5 stormed on a 19-0 run in the first quarter, led 41-22 after the quarter and led 76-52 at halftime.
Game 6? As I told Amy, “I hate to think of it this way because I’m a Mavericks homer, but the Clippers could be 40 points worse than they were (in Game 5) and still win. That’s how good the Clippers really are when they’ve got their heads into it and they’ve got their emotions into it and Doc Rivers has them focused.''
We'll see tonight if the Mavs can match the Clippers in focus. In performance. And, in terms of this series, in wins.