Clippers planning key change to try to slow down Luka Doncic
The Los Angeles Clippers remain unable to slow down Luka Doncic, and it sounds like coach Tyronn Lue is turning to his last resort to try to do it ahead of a pivotal Game 2.
The Clippers tried to use Patrick Beverley to defend Doncic in Game 1, but the Mavericks simply ran pick and roll plays to match Doncic up with center Ivica Zubac instead. Zubac struggled to deal with Doncic, forcing the Clippers into double-teams that left perimeter shooters open. Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to go 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, a major factor in Dallas’ 113-103 win.
Notably, the Clippers opted not to put former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard on Doncic. Lue suggested that will change in Game 2.
Asked by @espn_macmahon why Kawhi Leonard doesn't get the defensive assignment against Luka more often, Ty Lue said: "I think you'll get what you're asking for come Tuesday."
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) May 23, 2021
The worry for the Clippers is that putting Leonard on Doncic might force Leonard to expend a lot of energy defensively, causing his offense to suffer. After Doncic dropped 31 points and a triple-double in Game 1, it seems they’re not really left with a choice. The Clippers can hope the likes of Paul George step things up on offense so Leonard can focus on Doncic.
One thing is for sure: it wouldn’t be a good look for the Clippers to seemingly duck the Lakers, only to lose to Doncic and the Mavericks in the first round.