Harden, Zubac Shine As Clippers Take Series Opener Against Mavs

Paul George, James Harden, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA, Ivica Zubac
NBA Analysis Network

The Los Angeles Clippers emerged victorious in their playoff series opener against the Dallas Mavericks, with James Harden leading the way in his first postseason game for the team. The game ended with a 109-97 score in favor of the Clippers, largely thanks to the dynamic duo of Harden and big man Ivica Zubac.

Harden, a future Hall of Famer enjoying his inaugural season with the Clippers, dropped 28 points and added eight assists, showcasing his developed pick-and-roll synergy with Zubac. The center himself notched a career-high 20 points in the playoffs, paired with 15 rebounds, underlining his critical role in the victory.

“It was just the perfect game for a big,” Harden remarked post-game, his sights set on capturing his first NBA championship alongside teammate Paul George.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Paul George, James Harden, LA Clippers, Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Updates

The Clippers’ strategy was clear from the outset as Coach Tyronn Lue initiated the first play with Zubac, setting a tone of domination that would carry through the game. Zubac, who is in his sixth season with the Clippers and the team’s longest-tenured player, expressed his intent to maximize his impact. “I’m here to punish them in the post and be the best version of myself for the team,” he stated.

While Harden was a standout with six made three-pointers, George also contributed significantly with 22 points, helping the Clippers outperform the Mavericks in three-point shooting—18 of 36 compared to Dallas’s 10 of 33.

The Clippers managed this feat without two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has been sidelined since late March due to knee issues. In his absence, players like Russell Westbrook and Norman Powell stepped up, with Westbrook scoring 13 points in his reserve role.

Despite the Mavericks’ star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combining for 64 points, Dallas struggled with overall team performance. Doncic led with 33 points and 13 rebounds, while Irving added 31 points. However, the Mavericks’ supporting cast failed to make a significant impact.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Paul George, James Harden, LA Clippers, Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Updates

The game had its tense moments, notably when Zubac drew a technical and a flagrant-1 foul, which briefly swung momentum in favor of Dallas. However, clutch performances from Harden and George in the final stretches ensured the Clippers sealed their win.

Reflecting on the team’s success, George emphasized the importance of home advantage. “Starting off on the right note is crucial. We need to take care of business at home,” he said.

The Mavericks showed signs of life in the third quarter, with Doncic and Irving scoring heavily, but the deficit proved too large to overcome. The Clippers held a commanding 56-30 lead by halftime, setting a record for the fewest points allowed in a playoff game’s first half.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Paul George, James Harden, LA Clippers, Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Updates

As the series progresses, Dallas will need to address its slow starts and shooting woes to effectively challenge the Clippers. The teams will face off again in Game 2, providing the Mavericks with a chance to even the series before moving to their home court.

Want the latest NBA analysis, breaking news, and insider information? Click Here. Follow NBA Analysis Network on Twitter and Facebook.

Interested in reading the latest storylines and analysis in the NFL? Check out our partner NFL Analysis Network.

How Celtics Achieved Stunning Game 1 Overtime Win Over Pacers

Jayson Tatum led the Boston Celtics to a dramatic 133-128 overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals during

Bronny James Gets Brutally Honest About ‘Tough’ NBA Path

Few young athletes enter the NBA carrying the weight of expectations that Bronny James does, largely because he is LeBron James‘ son. This unique challenge

Celtics Star Faces Massive Injury Update Before Conference Finals

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis is expected to miss at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a right calf