Harden and Zubac guide the Los Angeles Clippers to a 109-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the opening game of the playoffs

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Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks

James Harden spent the season building a strong connection with big man Ivica Zubac through pick-and-roll plays. In his first year with the Los Angeles Clippers, the seasoned player is mentoring the team’s longest-serving Clipper. Their hard work paid off in the first game of their playoff series.

Harden scored 28 points in his Clippers’ playoff debut, while Zubac achieved a playoff career-high of 20 points along with 15 rebounds. This helped the Clippers secure a 109-97 victory over Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

“It was a great game for a big man,” Harden said, who is aiming for his first NBA championship alongside Paul George. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.

“We’re facing some Hall of Famers,” remarked Dallas’ Kyrie Irving. “I’m not sure if we’re even considered favorites in this series, so we need to focus on what we can control.”

Coach Tyronn Lue called the game’s first play for Zubac, setting the tone for the Clippers’ strong start.

“When I’m on the court, I aim to dominate in the post,” said Zubac, who has been with the team for six seasons. “I want to be the best I can be for this team.”

Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks (Credits: NBA.com)

Harden made 6 of 11 3-pointers and provided eight assists. George added 22 points, bouncing back after a slower first half. The Clippers outperformed the Mavericks in the 3-point game, making 18 of 36 shots from long range, compared to Dallas’ 10 of 33.

“We’re a formidable team when Zu plays at that level,” George commented.

Despite missing Kawhi Leonard, who has been sidelined since March 31 due to knee inflammation, the Clippers had five players scoring in double figures. Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, hasn’t played since then due to his injury.

Russell Westbrook contributed 13 points, and reserve guard Norman Powell played 30 minutes. “We’re eager for Kawhi’s return when he’s ready,” George said. “But the advantage we have is the experience with players like James, myself, Russ, and Norman, who have all been in significant playoff battles.”

This marks the third playoff meeting between the two teams in five years, with the Clippers winning both previous series.


By Michael Smith

Hi. Hailing from Manila, I am an avid consumer of anime, gaming, football and professional wrestling. You can mostly find me either writing articles, binging shows or engaged in an engrossing discussion about the said interests.

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