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“Saw Zubac Look Like Shaquille O’Neal”: Paul Pierce Left Bewildered Following Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s Off Night

Shubham Singh

"Saw Zubac Look Like Shaquille O'Neal": Paul Pierce Left Bewildered Following Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving's Off Night

In their first game of the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Luka Doncic and Co. by 12 points. They had built a 26-point lead by halftime with the Mavs posting just 30 points till then. Meanwhile, Clippers’ center Ivica Zubac put up 20 points and 15 rebounds to seize the paint. This performance was unexpected because Zubac finished the 2023-24 regular season with 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds, per game and figures as the last option on the offensive end. 

On ‘Undisputed’, Paul Pierce was highly critical of the Mavericks’ effort. He couldn’t comprehend why a two-way force like Mavs capitulated in the first half on both ends. Besides, he quipped that the Mavs inside defense made Zubac look like low-post phenom Shaquille O’Neal.

It was so mind-blowing that a team that has been so potent on offense and defense about the way they did. And then I saw Zubac look like Shaq Diesel. I am like, “Is Shaq playing?” the way he is bullying the whole Mavericks team,” Paul Pierce told co-hosts Keyshawn Johnson and Skip Bayless.

The Truth wondered how the superstar scoring duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving could barely help their team hit the 30-point mark in the first half. He highlighted how the NBA’s top scorer had 0 points in the second quarter. While both the athletes crossed the 30-point mark and accounted for 64 points, their ascension came after the Clippers had built a firm grip.

Meanwhile, Pierce lauded the Clippers’ duo of Paul George and James Harden for playing like they have “something to prove”. He lauded the Beard and Russell Westbrook, who gave them a bolt of energy coming off the bench. Despite the disparity in efforts, the 2008 champion expected Mavs to “adjust”.

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce didn’t waver on his position of the Mavs winning this series. However, the Los Angeles Clippers must have created some doubts in his mind. Even Shaquille O’Neal himself is in awe of the performance from Lob City making a statement from the go.

Shaquille O’Neal lauds the Clippers

During TNT’s post-game show, O’Neal reflected on how Zubac caught the Mavs’ defense flat-footed. The Clippers’ pick-and-roll actions created size mismatches. Thus, when Zubac had a guard checking him in the post, he made sure the Mavs paid the price for switching. This efficient approach coupled with efforts from Russell Westbrook, Harden, and George made a bright impression on the big fella,

Every time they switched a small guy on Zubac, Zubac got the ball, took a high-percentage shot, they got a lot of high-percentage shots. James played well, Russell played well, the other played well.”

Shaq’s co-host Charles Barkley kept “Dallas in the same boat as the Pacers” because of their strong offensive game and weak defense. Further, he likened the Clippers to the Miami Heat who are “always gonna play hard”. The Mavs’ defense will need huge adjustments if they want to contain the scoring outbursts of the Harden-George duo. Meanwhile, the offense also needs more depth. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic were responsible for 65% of their points in Game 1. The supporting cast made just 9/36 shots on 25% shooting from the floor.

Such production won’t cut it in the postseason stage, especially considering the Clippers’ wealth of scoring options. Overall, the Mavericks didn’t set the tone in the opening game, therefore, a two-way blockbuster is due in Game 2. Given the playoff experience on both sides of the court, this matchup between the Western Conference giants might turn into a blockbuster series.

Post Edited By:Hitesh Nigam

About the author

Shubham Singh

Shubham Singh


Shubham Singh is an NBA Journalist at SportsRush. He found his passion in Writing when he couldn't fulfil his dream of playing professional basketball. Shubham is obsessed with box scores and also loves to keep track of advanced stats and is, particularly, fond of writing CoreSport analytical pieces. In the league, his all time favorites were 80s Bad Boys, Pistons, while Dennis Rodman and his enthralling rebounding made him love the game more. It also made him realize that the game is much more than fancy scoring and playmaking. Shubham is also a huge fan of cricket and loves to watch all forms of women sports.

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