2021 Playoffs: West First Round | Clippers vs. Mavericks

Numbers preview: Clippers (4) vs. Mavs (5)

Taking a deep dive into the stats that could shape the series between Dallas and the LA Clippers.

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

The first-round series between the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks is a rematch of a series that gave us one of the most thrilling moments in last year’s postseason. It’s also a rematch of one of the most lopsided games of this season. The Clippers are in win-now mode, built around two of the league’s best two-way players in their prime. The Mavs are looking to take the next step behind their 22-year-old star.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 4-5 series in the West, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.


Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions


LA Clippers (47-25)

Pace: 97.6 (28)
OffRtg: 116.7 (3)
DefRtg: 110.6 (8)
NetRtg: +6.1 (2)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Dallas: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Clippers notes – General:

  1. One of four teams — the Bucks, Suns and Jazz were the others — that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
  2. Saw the league’s second biggest drop in pace, from 102.2 possessions per 48 minutes (eighth) last season to 97.6 (28th) this season.
  3. Were 42-8 (0.840, fifth best) after leading by double-digits and 11-22 (0.333, fifth best) after trailing by double digits.
  4. Were 16-18 (0.471) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes and 31-7 (0.816) otherwise. That was the league’s biggest differential between a team’s non-clutch and clutch winning percentage. Was the only team that didn’t play an overtime game.

Clippers 2020-21 shot profile

 Area FGM FGA FG% Rank %FGA Rank
Restricted area 1,065 1,632 65.3% 12 26% 27
Other paint 454 1,060 42.8% 13 17% 18
Mid-range 464 1,056 43.9% 7 17% 5
Corner 3 342 733 46.7% 1 12% 2
Above-break 3 684 1,749 39.1% 1 28% 22

%FGA = Percentage of total field goal attempts

Clippers notes – Offense:

  1. Ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency for the 10th straight season and in the top five for the seventh time over that stretch.
  2. Led the league in 3-point percentage at 41.1%, the fourth highest in NBA history. They led the league in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (42.8%), corner 3-point percentage (46.7%) and above-the-break 3-point percentage (39.1%), ranking third in pull-up 3-point percentage (37.3%).
  3. Their free throw percentage (83.9%) was the highest in NBA history. They also led the league in clutch free throw percentage (87.1%). But they ranked just 27th in free throw rate (22.2 attempts per 100 shots from the field).
  4. Saw the league’s biggest drop in points in the paint per game, from 47.7 (16th) last season to 42.2 (28th) this season.
  5. Scored 1.19 points per possession, the league’s best mark, against zone, according to Synergy tracking.

Clippers four factors

 Own/Opp. eFG% Rank FTA Rate Rank TO% Rank OREB% Rank
Own 56.4% 4 0.222 27 13.5% 14 27.0% 12
Opponent 53.1% 8 0.239 12 13.2% 18 24.6% 5

eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained

Clippers notes – Defense:

  1. Allowed 0.94 points per possessions, the league’s highest opponent mark, from pick-and-roll ball-handlers. 34% of their opponents’ shots, the league’s fourth highest opponent rate, came between the restricted area and the 3-point line.
  2. Only 77% of their opponents’ 3-pointers, the league’s lowest opponent rate, were assisted.
  3. Ranked 27th with just 12.8 deflections per game.
  4. Ranked 27th in clutch defense, having allowed 117.8 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Ranked last in clutch defensive rebounding percentage (62.9%) and 28th in clutch opponent turnover rate (9.1 per 100 possessions).

Clippers notes – Lineups:

  1. Lineup of Jackson, George, Leonard, Morris and Zubac outscored its opponents by 18.8 points per 100 possessions, the second best mark among 30 lineups that played at least 200 minutes. Lineup with Beverley and Ibaka instead of Jackson and Zubac had the third best mark (+16.7 per 100). They ranked first and second in defensive rebounding percentage among those 30 lineups.
  2. The Jackson-Zubac lineup averaged just 95.1 possessions per 48 minutes, the slowest pace among those 30 lineups.
  3. The Beverley-Ibaka lineup allowed just 101.7 points per 100 possessions, the second best mark among those 30 lineups. It forced 17.1 turnovers per 100 possessions, second most. On offense, it had the second lowest free throw rate (15.4 attempts per 100 shots from the field).
  4. Outscored their opponents by 17.6 points per 100 possessions with George and Leonard both on the floor. That was the second best mark among 154 two-man combinations that played at least 1,000 minutes together.
  5. The Clippers were 12.3 points per 100 possessions better with Leonard on the floor (+12.2) than they were with him off the floor (-0.1). That was the third biggest differential among 233 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team. The Clippers scored 121.4 points per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor. That was the second highest on-court mark among 345 players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game.

Clippers notes – Individuals:

  1. Nicolas Batum allowed 1.18 points per possession on isolations, the third worst mark among 87 players who defended at least 50.
  2. DeMarcus Cousins ranked fourth in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 29.3% of available defensive boards while he was on the floor.
  3. Paul George was one of four players — Jaylen Brown, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were the others — who averaged at least six catch-and-shoot points and at least six pull-up points per game.
  4. Serge Ibaka was one of six players to shoot 70% or better on at least 100 shots in the restricted area and 50% or better on at least 50 mid-range attempts.
  5. Luke Kennard had free throw rate of 7.5 attempts per 100 shots from the field, the fifth lowest rate among 250 players with at least 300 field goal attempts.
  6. Kawhi Leonard scored 1.11 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the third best mark among 58 players with at least 250 total ball-handler possessions. His 1.12 points per possession on post-ups was also the third best mark among 30 players with at least 100 post-up possessions.
  7. George and Leonard were two of the 12 players (which include two other sets of teammates) to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in 50 games or more.
  8. Marcus Morris (47.3%), Kennard (44.6%) and Reggie Jackson ranked second, eighth and 12th, respectively, in 3-point percentage. Morris and George shot 55.0% and 54.8% on corner 3s, the two best marks among 60 players who attempted at least 75. Morris shot 57.1% from 3-point range in the first quarter, tied for the best mark for any player with at least 50 3-point attempts in any quarter.
  9. Ivica Zubac‘s true shooting percentage of 69.3% was the best mark among 250 players with at least 300 field goal attempts.
  10. The differential between opponent field goal percentage on shots Zubac defended (43.7%) and expected field goal percentage on those shots (50.4%) was the fourth biggest among 298 players who defended at least 300 total shots.

Dallas Mavericks (42-30)

Pace: 97.9 (26)
OffRtg: 114.6 (8)
DefRtg: 112.3 (21)
NetRtg: +2.3 (10)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Clippers: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Mavs notes – General:

  1. Had a better record (42-30) but a worse point differential (+2.3 per game) than they did last season, when they were 43-32 with the point differential of a team that was 50-25.
  2. Were 5.0 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break (+4.7, sixth) than they were before it (-0.3, 17th). Only Minnesota (+6.3) saw a bigger post-break jump.
  3. Had the league’s best record (39-2) after leading by double-digits. Were 27-0 (no other team had fewer than six losses) after winning the first quarter.

Mavs 2020-21 shot profile

 Area FGM FGA FG% Rank %FGA Rank
Restricted area 1,121 1,649 68.0% 2 26% 26
Other paint 469 1,043 45.0% 8 17% 19
Mid-range 374 851 43.9% 6 14% 12
Corner 3 221 592 37.3% 19 9% 12
Above-break 3 772 2,138 36.1% 13 34% 4

%FGA = Percentage of total field goal attempts

Mavs notes – Offense:

  1. Were one of two teams — New York was the other — that ranked in the bottom 10 in fast-break points, points in the paint, and second chance points per game.
  2. One of two teams — Utah was the other — that ranked in the top five in both the percentage of their possessions that were pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions (21.8%, fifth) and points per possession on ball-handler possessions (0.98, third).
  3. Had the league’s smallest differential between their effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers (54.7%, 17th) and their effective field goal percentage on pull-up jumpers (48.5%, sixth). Ranked second in pull-up 2-point percentage (46.2%).
  4. One of five teams — the Clippers are one of the others — that ranked in the bottom 10 in both ball movement (312 passes per 24 minutes of possession, 24th) and player movement (10.8 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession, 26th).

Mavs four factors

 Own/Opp. eFG% Rank FTA Rate Rank TO% Rank OREB% Rank
Own 55.0% 8 0.242 15 12.3% 3 25.3% 21
Opponent 53.4% 11 0.259 24 12.9% 22 26.6% 17

eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained

Mavs notes – Defense:

  1. Only 14.0% of their opponents’ possessions, tied for the league’s lowest rate, were in transition. That was down from 16.4% (fifth highest rate) last season.
  2. Ranked 29th with just 12.1 deflections per game.
  3. Ranked 29th in clutch defense, allowing 120.7 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. Forced a league-low 7.8 turnovers per 100 clutch possessions.
  4. Allowed 1.12 points per possession when playing zone, according to Synergy tracking. That was the worst mark among the 23 teams that played at least 100 total possessions of zone defense.

Mavs notes – Lineups:

  1. Had three of the 32 lineups that played at least 100 minutes and outscored opponents by at least 10 points per 100 possessions, with Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Richardson the two players in all three lineups, though the Mavs outscored their opponents by only 0.2 per 100 in 1,243 total minutes with Finney-Smith and Richardson on the floor together.
  2. Most-used lineup — Doncic, Richardson, Finney-Smith, Kleber and Porzingis — outscored its opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions, a mark which ranked ninth among 30 lineups that played at least 200 minutes. It ranked fourth offensively (123.7 points scored per 100 possessions) and 21st defensively (111.1 allowed per 100) among those 30 lineups.
  3. Allowed 117.7 points per 100 possessions in 862 total minutes with Doncic and Porzingis on the floor together. That was the third worst mark among 309 two-man combinations that played at least 750 minutes. Were much better defensively in Doncic’s 1,400 minutes without Porzingis (107.8 allowed per 100) and Porzingis’ 464 minutes without Doncic (106.7).
  4. Got only 6% of their minutes, the league’s third lowest rate, from rookies or second-year players.

Mavs notes – Individuals:

  1. Jalen Brunson was one of six players who shot 48% or better on at least 25 3-point attempts from each corner.
  2. Luka Doncic led the league in time of possession (8.9 minutes per game) and ranked second in usage rate, using 35.0% of the Mavs’ possessions (via field goal attempts, turnovers or trips to the line) while he was on the floor. Only 13.6% of his baskets, the second lowest rate among 177 players with at least 200 field goals, were assisted. That rate was down from 19.1% last season and 27.1% his rookie year.
  3. Doncic ranked second with 13.2 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. His 1.01 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler ranked 10th among 43 players with at least 300 total ball-handler possessions.
  4. Dorian Finney-Smith took 91% of his shots from the restricted area (26%) or 3-point range (65%), the seventh highest rate among 250 players with at least 300 field goal attempts.
  5. Finney-Smith had free throw rate of 8.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field, the eighth lowest rate among 250 players with at least 300 field goal attempts.
  6. Tim Hardaway Jr. ranked seventh with 369 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. The 40.9% he shot on catch-and-shoot 3s ranked 30th among 86 players who attempted at least 200.
  7. Hardaway ranked sixth with 17 drawn charges.
  8. Brunson (70.9%), Hardaway (69.6%) and Doncic (68.9%) ranked first, third and fourth in restricted area field goal percentage among 58 guards with at least 150 restricted-area attempts.
  9. Maxi Kleber averaged just 1.21 seconds per touch, fewest among 325 players with at least 1,000 touches. His 42.1% on catch-and-shoot 3s ranked 21st among 86 players who attempted at least 200.
  10. Kristaps Porzingis averaged 3.4 roll-man possessions per game, eighth most in the league, according to Synergy tracking. His 1.12 points per possession as a roll man ranked 28th among 37 players with at least 100 roll-man possessions. His 0.98 points per possession on post-up possessions ranked 15th among 30 players with at least 100.
  11. JJ Redick saw the third biggest drop in 3-point percentage (from 45.3% to 37.1%) among 202 players with at least 100 attempts in each of the last two seasons.
  12. Josh Richardson‘s 32.3% on catch-and-shoot 3s ranked 83rd among 86 players who attempted at least 200. Richardson did see the fifth biggest jump in 3-point percentage from before the All-Star break (28.2%) to after it (37.0%) among 162 players with at least 75 3-point attempts both before and after the break. Finney-Smith saw the fifth biggest jump (from 34.5% to 42.6%).

Regular season matchup

Mavericks won season series, 2-1

Mavs 124, Clippers 73 (Dec. 27 @ L.A.)

Clippers 109, Mavs 99 (March 15 @ Dallas)

Mavs 105, Clippers 89 (March 17 @ Dallas)

Pace: 93.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Clippers OffRtg: 96.1 (29th vs. Dallas)
Dallas OffRtg: 116.7 (6th vs. Clippers)

Total points scored, season series

Area LAC DAL Diff.
Restricted area 90 74 16
Other paint 32 34 -2
Total in paint 122 108 14
Mid-range 36 44 -8
3-point range 81 138 -57
Total outside paint 117 182 -65
Free throws 32 38 -6
Fast break points 34 49 -15
2nd chance points 30 29 1

Matchup notes:

  1. All three games took place before the Clippers acquired Rajon Rondo. Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris both missed the first meeting, which was the only one that Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka played in. Kristaps Porzingis missed the first meeting and Dorian Finney-Smith missed the third meeting for the Mavs.
  2. The Mavs’ 51-point win on Dec. 27 was the third highest margin in a game this season. The score was 77-27 at halftime.
  3. The two losses to Dallas account for two of the four times the Clippers scored less than a point per possession this season. Their 73 points on 94 possessions (77.7 per 100) on Dec. 27 was the fourth least efficient game for any team this season. The Clippers made more 3s in their one win over the Mavs (14-for-32) than they did in the two losses combined (13-for-65).
  4. The Mavs five free throw attempts on Mar. 15 were tied for the fourth fewest in a game this season.
  5. Paul George’s effective field goal percentage of 44.1% was the 10th worst mark among 81 players with at least 25 field goal attempts against the Mavs this season. Josh Richardson was his primary defender.
  6. Leonard’s effective field goal percentage of 46.3% was his third worst mark vs. any Western Conference opponent. Maxi Kleber was his primary defender.
  7. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s effective field goal percentage of 71.1% was the third best mark among 79 players with at least 25 field goal attempts against the Clippers this season. He started in the Mavs’ two wins and came off the bench in the Mar. 15 loss.
  8. In the two March games, the Mavs outscored the Clippers by 27 points in 81 minutes with Luka Doncic on the floor and were outscored by 21 in just 15 minutes (scoring just 20 points on 30 offensive possessions) with Doncic off the floor. His 42 points on Mar. 17 were the second highest scoring game against the Clippers this season. George was his primary defender, though Nicolas Batum also defended him quite a bit, and he took a lot of shots against Ivica Zubac.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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