DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers are set to go head-to-head on Wednesday night in LA in Game 5 of their playoff series. The Clippers defeated the Mavs in Game 4 to even the series up at two games apiece. Now, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd is tasked with the difficult challenge of finding a way to contain the Clippers' three-point attack and James Harden's finishing ability at the basket.

Los Angeles shot 62.1 percent from beyond the arc in Game 4. It was an incredible display of three-point shooting. So the easy answer to contain it would be to simply guard closer on the perimeter, right? Not necessarily.

Yes, it is true that three-pointers played a big role in the Clippers' Game 4 win. In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks turned to a small-ball lineup which left Maxi Kleber at the center position for most of the period. James Harden feasted on the Mavericks' defensive strategy in the quarter, as the Clippers star went 6-8 from the field and finished with 15 fourth quarter points.

Harden took just one three-pointer in the quarter as well, and he ended up missing that attempt. So will the Mavericks live with Harden's two-point shots if it means limiting LA's three-point attack?

“Yeah, we're going to live with that,” Jason Kidd said on Tuesday after practice. “Threes hurt you or can beat you. Twos in this league don't beat you. It gives you an opportunity. We just got to make it tougher on him (Harden) with the twos… We can't just give him free layups. He's too good. We have to do a better job on the ball with him.”

Mavericks focused on containing Clippers' three-point attack

LA Clippers guard Norman Powell (24) shoots over Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first quarter during game four of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers have endured some up-and-down games so far in the series in reference to their three-point shooting. In Game 1 and Game 4, they have looked like the peak Golden State Warriors in the mid-2010's.

Kidd addressed the Clippers long-range shooting.

“Looking at Game 2 and 3, just being able to understand the three is important for them,” Kidd said. “We got to do a better job, especially early in the game.”

The Mavs head coach also acknowledged that Los Angeles has converted on a number of difficult three-point attempts.

“Not just clean looks, they are getting tough looks. They are making tough threes too. So it's not just wide-open threes, they are also contested threes that they are capable of making too. These are stars, these are future Hall of Famers when you talk about Harden and PG (Paul George). Understanding how important the three is for them… We gotta do better.”

Defense is important. That goes without saying. But the Mavericks will find themselves in a much better position if they can find their footing on their own three-point shots. So far in the series, Dallas is shooting just 32.8 percent from deep, via StatMuse.

There is no question that containing the Clippers' three-point prowess will help matters. Finding a way to limit James Harden's drives to the basket certainly would not hurt. However, stepping up on the offensive end of the floor will provide this Mavericks team with the advantage they are seeking.