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first_imgOnly the basketball gods know what might be in store Sunday afternoon, when the Clippers and Mavericks face off again for Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.Will Luka Doncic’s sprained left ankle be healthy enough to permit him to play? About 24 hours before tipoff, Dallas had no idea; the MRI machine in the bubble wasn’t cooperating.How about Paul George’s shots, will they start to fall? His Clippers teammates believe so – but they also recognize that slumps happen; it’s basketball.For all the unknown variables at play, the facts are that after L.A. fended off the Mavericks 130-122 on Friday, the second-seeded Clippers are in control with a 2-1 series lead. What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Doc Rivers wasn’t going to concern himself over Doncic’s injury, he said after Friday’s game, in which last season’s Rookie of the Year turned his ankle guarding Leonard in the third quarter and tried to play in a stint that lasted only 2:58 of the fourth quarter.“I’ve been on both sides of that,” Rivers said. “I don’t worry about it. I just keep coaching my team. Listen, it’s just part of the game.”So too are shooting slumps, no matter how ill-timed.After shooting 10 for 22 in the series-opening win Monday, George is 7 for 33 (21.2%) from the field in the past two games, including 4 for 17 in Wednesday’s 127-114 loss. The Clippers’ second star also is 3 for 18 from 3-point range in the past two games, when otherwise he’s averaging 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists.“I’m obviously struggling shooting, struggling scoring the ball,” said George, who, in 22 playoff games during the past four postseasons, averaged 27 points per game on 42.4% shooting.In the six seeding games he played inside the intimate Walt Disney World Resort gyms, George was sizzling, averaging 25.5 points per game and making 48.1% of his shots from the floor and 50% from deep.“It is what it is,” George continued Friday. “It didn’t affect us winning tonight, so I am going to continue to just get lost in the game. Whether I make shots or miss shots, I’m going to continue to be aggressive.”The scoring will come, George’s coach and teammates concurred.“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Landry Shamet, who got going Friday with a career-playoff high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. “Nobody is fretting, nobody is worried at all. He’s a bad dude, and when it comes, it comes. That’s just how it goes; it’s basketball.”Related Articles “Yeah,” Rivers said, “I’m not worried about it. He’s a great player. He’s human. I can guarantee you this: He has not forgotten how to shoot.”Rivers’ suggested George’s final attempt Friday, when he carved out space to score a layup over the 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, will bode well going forward.“(He) saw the ball go in,” Rivers said. “Amazing how the basketball gods (work). That’s probably going to be a carryover for the next game for him.”Clippers (2-1) vs. Mavericks (1-2)When: 12:30 p.m. SundayWhere: Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaTV: ABC Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime center_img Kawhi Leonard, the two-time NBA Finals MVP, has scored 100 points over these first three games, fewer than only Donovan Mitchell’s 107 in these playoffs. No Clipper has ever matched that scoring output in his first three postseason appearances.It’s also true that the best-of-seven series has felt different without Clippers willful guard Patrick Beverley, who remains doubtful with a strained left calf, and that it will feel starkly different still if Doncic can’t play.“I believe this is going to be, most likely, a game-time decision-type of situation,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, via Zoom, early Saturday afternoon. “But I don’t know, I can’t tell you the exact timing … we’re trying to get him an MRI, there was an issue with the MRI machine here and they’re trying to get that resolved, so that we can get the MRI done.”Otherwise, Carlisle said, “We’ve gotta measure a lot of things relative to how he’s feeling, what the diagnostic test looks like and what our trainers feel. I wish I knew right now, but I don’t. Tonight’s a big night in terms of how he feels in the morning.”Timing might be on the Clippers’ side, because Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. start (3:30 p.m. in Lake Buena Vista, Florida) will present an even shorter turnaround than what the teams have experienced so far, when they’ve played every other night at 9 p.m., their time. Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more