With Trey Burke and Seth Curry controlling things from the perimeter, and Boban Marjanovic impacting the world forever within, the Mavs’ reserves flexed their muscles in an extremely ingenious manner while helping Dallas overturn the Clippers, 127-114, in Game 2 of this best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
The series is presently tied at 1-1, with Game 3 set for Friday at 8 p.m. What’s more, if fans were permitted to join in, they most likely would be really astonished at how the underrated Mavs’ bench had the option to dominate the amazing Clipper backups.
That dominance by the Mavs’ bench was clear when superstar point guard Luka Doncic went to the seat nursing five fouls early in the final quarter with the Mavs up, 98-88. Be that as it may, rather than the Mavs withering without Doncic, they began flourishing behind Burke and Curry as the Dallas lead developed to 18 points.
“We know (Doncic is) our go-to guy, but things happen,” said Burke, who tallied 16 points in only 18 minutes. “So we knew we had to stay together, we knew we had to continue to huddle up on all dead balls.
“That’s a tough team over there with more experience than what we have. But we feel like we match up great with them, we feel like we have the pieces to win this series, so tonight was a big night for us.”
Unquestionably, this was a major night for Marjanovic. The 7-4 backup center completed the game with a proficient 13 points and nine bounce back in just 10 minutes.
That is the most playoff points and bounce back by anybody in NBA history who played 10 minutes or less.
“Everybody played this like a team sport,” said Marjanovic, who was 6-of-8 from the field. “It’s not about one player. It’s about the whole team. Everybody did a great job.”
Generally speaking, the Mavs’ bench outscored their Clipper counterparts (47-37), outrebounded the Clipper holds (18-11), and produced three additional takes. Additionally, the Mavs’ cavalry was 19-of-31 from the field, while the Clipper holds were 13-of-24 from the floor.
“I think we just stuck to the script,” said Burke, who was 7-of-11 from the field. “We knew what we had to do on both ends of the court coming into the game.
“Everybody came in with a level of focus and a level of being locked in that we needed from everybody – one through 15. We’re going to need that. We know it’s going to be a tough series, we know that it’s only one game, but it’s something we can build off of.”
This must be all strange for Burke, who was jobless when the Mavs signed him as a substitute player on July 1 after Willie Cauley-Stein declined to enter the bubble because of the birth of his daughter. Presently, on one of the NBA’s greatest stages, Burke – he played 25 games for the Mavs last season — ends up playing noticeable minutes for a team in the end of the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“Coach (Rick) Carlisle and my teammates that I was here with last year, they just told me to be myself when I got here,” Burke said. “Not to try to be anybody else out there but Trey Burke, and that’s a playmaker.
“On offense, being able to break down the defense and score at will. Or if something is not there, give somebody else a great shot.”
As far as concerns him, Curry unmistakable hit some big buckets, as his 15 points on 6-of-9 shots helped fight off the Clippers, who never led in this game.
“A lot of guys stepped up,” said Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 23 points and seven boards. “Boban played great, Trey was really good today, Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and a lot of guys stepped up and gave us a lot of energy.
“Whenever Luka wasn’t on the court there were a lot of guys that could step up and give us something.”
One thing Burke wanted to clarify: His defense is something he’s pleased with, and he put that on full display in Game 2 with the two steals.
“It’s been a label that’s been on me in this league that I’m trying to erase,” Burke said. “I feel like I’m a really good defender, I feel Like I can pick up 94 feet, I can be a pest on the defensive end and I can make an impact on that end of the court. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do every time I can out there.”
While the bench did its part, Burke highlighted the starters establishing the pace by leaping out to a 15-2 lead. That is precisely what the Clippers did when they broke out to a 18-2 lead on the way to winning Game 1, 118-110.
“Every possession matters in the playoffs, every small detail matters,” Burke said. “We know that it’s a game of runs and we have a powerful offense, but that’s a powerful team over there as well. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot at the beginning of games and allow them to get going.”
Furthermore, Burke realizes the Mavs can’t get too high since they tied the series at a game each. He realizes they should stay even keel.
In any case, if the Mavs’ bench can duplicate in Game 3 what they did in Game 2, they truly could get into the heads of the Clippers.
“Obviously everyone is on a high right now, but after Game 1 everyone was on a real low, and I think that’s how you stay balanced in this league – knowing that you can be humbled real quick and knowing that things can change for the good real quick,” Burke said. “If you keep that mentality I think you’ll start moving in the right direction.
“We know that they’re going to come out with a lot of intensity. They’re going to come out and try to throw the first blow, so we still have to be ready for everything they throw our way.”