Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving Guide Dallas Mavericks to Series-Clinching Game 6 Victory Over Clippers

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks had the chance to close out their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game 6 at American Airlines Center and took full advantage, achieving a 114-101 victory. The Mavericks advance to the Western Conference Semifinals and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder, the fourth playoff series win in the Luka Doncic era but the first time defeating the Clippers after two past postseason eliminations against them.

“I lost twice to them, so it was an even bigger motivation to beat them,” Doncic said. “They have a great team, and you have to work really hard to beat them. So, I am happy.”

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Despite continued struggles from beyond the arc, Doncic delivered 28 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds. He finished the night shooting 9-26 from the floor and 1-10 from the perimeter but did go 9-11 on free throws. Irving had two points at halftime but went on a second-half tear, scoring 30 points on the night and adding six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Dallas received no shortage of timely plays from both superstars to close out the series.

“It’s easy to play alongside somebody like that. But you also have to be sure of yourself because when somebody’s that special it’s easy to kind of fall into that secondary role. There’s no primary, secondary – we’re one team,” Irving said of Doncic. “We succeed together. We fail together. And that’s always been the M.O. since the beginning of the season. We’re a team, and everybody has a specific role.

“Everybody has that skillset that they bring to the team. Just be the best version of yourself,” Irving continued. “So, when me and Luka are getting it going like that it just feels good and makes the game a lot easier. Off the court, you know, [he’s a] 25-year-old kid [so I] do my best to make him smile and have good energy and also [he’s a] new father so try to support him in other ways and on the basketball court it just looks seamless.”

The Mavericks’ center position was a significant plus, proving particularly timely considering Maxi Kleber’s night ended after five minutes due to a right shoulder sprain. Danial Gafford scored 13 points and six rebounds, while Dereck Lively II scored 10 points, nine rebounds, and three assists off the bench.

“When you look at our two bigs, Gaff and Lively, both of them can start, one has to start, the other one has to come off the bench,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “They’ve been both great in those roles of one starting and the other one coming in, those guys are playing at a very high level and they’ve helped us defensively and offensively.”

On the wings, P.J. Washington added 14 points, five rebounds, and two steals with all four of his made shots from the perimeter on a night the Mavericks struggled to convert. Derrick Jones Jr. chipped in six points, five rebounds, and two assists. Josh Green added seven points and four rebounds. Each of the went beyond the box score by being physical on defense, disrupting the Clippers’ offense.

While Kawhi Leonard remained sidelined due to right knee inflammation, the Clippers adjusted their lineup by replacing Amir Coffey with P.J. Tucker. This change reduced floor spacing and did not enhance their ability to limit Doncic. Los Angeles often used Tucker as a screener, knowing Doncic was covering him, which caused soft switches and challenges in containing movements in open spaces.

Irving consistently applied aggressive ball pressure on Harden, especially when the Clippers failed to use screens to switch him off. This approach underscored the team’s focus on maintaining a strong defensive identity, highlighted by a superstar’s willingness to set a defensive tone. With Jones often disrupting Paul George, Los Angeles’ superstars struggled again after having a poor Game 5. Harden ended his night with 16 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds, but shot 6-16 from the floor while missing all six of his 3-point attempts. George had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists but ended his night shooting 6-18 overall and 2-10 from the perimeter.

“Some of the best to ever play the game are recognized for doing on both ends of the floor, and to make an impact on the defensive end, you have to be well conditioned, and you have to have that extra gear,” Irving said. “To be able to go guard the best of the best, to make the best of the best miss you, you have to make them feel uncomfortable. You have to know tendencies, you have to study the game of basketball and you also have to appreciate their greatness and not disrespect them.

“I try to have that approach and maintain that consistent mentality that I’ll be able to make more of an impact if I’m doing on both ends of the floor, my offense can come and go,” Irving explained. “I feel I can, you know, play with the best of them on that end. But defensively, that’s where I want to make my mark. I know that it galvanizes the group as well when they see me doing it. So just leading by example and also trying to be up there with the greats, man, that takes consistency and takes the will that comes from internally.

After Washington converted on a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to put the Mavericks up 13-6, the Clippers called a timeout with 7:32 left in the opening period. With Doncic continuing to trust his floor spacers, he found Washington again using another no-look pass, resulting in a made 3-pointer. After Washington’s second make, Dallas went up by double figures for the first time.

The Clippers opened up their offense late in the first quarter when they deployed double-drag screens for Harden to attack hard left before spraying it out to George in the weak-side corner. George hit the 3-pointer to bring Los Angeles within 20-15 with 3:56 left in the period. George hit another shot from deep, making it a tightly contested ending to the first quarter.

With the Clippers primarily having Terance Mann guard Irving off the ball, Doncic had success picking apart various ball screen coverages. Against traditional drop coverage, he’d snake into the gap and make a play in short-range, or find a teammate. Against blitzes, he was finding open teammates quickly, often using a no-look pass. He already totaled 14 points and four assists in the first quarter.

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