The 2020 NBA playoffs rolled along on Wednesday night with a Western Conference showdown. And in keeping with the trend of the day, Game 2 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks wasn't very dramatic. After losing Game 1, the Mavericks bounced back to even the series at 1-1 with a 127-114 win.
Luka Doncic was dominant to start the game, helping the Mavericks jump out to a 17-point lead in the first half. And though he finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, he dealt with foul trouble in the second half, and had minimal impact after the break. The Mavericks' bench stepped up, though, as Seth Curry, Trey Burke, Boban Marjanovic and Delon Wright combined for 47 huge points.
Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Clippers as per usual, finishing with 35 points and 10 rebounds. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Lou Williams -- 23 points and seven assists -- was the only teammate who came with him. They shot just 29.4 percent from 3-point land, and struggled on the defensive end en route to a disappointing loss.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Luka makes history
It seems like every game there's another note about Luka Doncic breaking some sort of record. In Game 1, he went for 42 points, which was the most ever in a playoff debut, and on Wednesday night, after finishing with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, he became just the second player ever to score 70 in his first two playoff games. The only player with more than that was George Mikan, who put up 75 points in his first two playoff games way back in 1949.
But while Doncic was key in the Mavericks building a big lead in the first half, he needed a lot of help to close this out. Due to foul trouble, he played just nine minutes in the second half, and sat for almost all of the fourth quarter. That's obviously not how the Mavericks would have drawn things up, but getting a playoff win with Doncic only playing 28 minutes is huge considering how big of a load he usually carries for this team.
Dallas' bench steps up
Doncic had to be taken out of the game for large stretches of the second half, but the fact that Rick Carlisle was able to keep him there and not risk him fouling out was due to the stellar play of the Mavericks' bench. The Clippers' reserves are well known for their play, and they led the league with 50.4 points off the bench in the regular season. In Game 2, though, they were soundly outplayed.
The trio of Trey Burke (16 points), Seth Curry (15) and Boban Marjanovic (13) all scored in double figures, as the Mavs' bench combined for 47 points on 19 of 31 from the field. Marjanovic -- whose postgame interview with the Inside the NBA guys was tremendous -- was causing problems with his size, while Burke and Curry were slashing into the lane and hitting jumpers seemingly at will.
Playoff P struggles
The narrative about Paul George in the playoffs in general is pretty unfair, but he deserves criticism for his play in Game 2. He ended up finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but did so on 4 of 17 from the field, and was pretty invisible for most of the game. Ironically, the one big shot he did make, a 3-pointer that would have cut the deficit to just seven points in the final few minutes while the Clippers were trying to make a comeback, got wiped out by a moving screen call on Montrezl Harrell.
George has been awesome this season, and was huge in their Game 1 win, so there's not much to worry about here. At the same time, the Clippers just can't afford nights like this from George moving forward. Even as good as they are offensively, it's hard to win playoff games when one of your superstars barely manages to crack double digits.
Clippers' defense nowhere to be seen
The old adage that offense wins games, but defense wins championships is really being put to the test in this series. Going strictly by offensive rating, the Mavericks put together the best offense in NBA history this season, scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions. No. 2 in the league was the Clippers, who checked in at 113.3. In short, neither team has trouble getting buckets.
On the other side of the ball, however, was where things diverged. The Clippers were one of just two teams to finish in the top-five in both offensive and defensive rating, while the Mavericks had the second-worst defense of any team to make the playoffs. Only the Trail Blazers were worse.
That dominant Clippers defense was nowhere to be seen in Game 2, however. Yes, the Mavericks are tough to slow down, and Patrick Beverley was out, but back-up guards like Burke and Curry were getting into the paint at will, and that just shouldn't happen. On some level you have to assume Doncic is going to get his, but you can't let everyone else do the same. The Clippers are going to have to tighten up defensively in Game 3, especially on the perimeter.