The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series on Sunday. LA earned a 109-97 victory over the Mavericks, who will need to make adjustments to avoid going down 0-2 in Game 2 on Tuesday.

With Kawhi Leonard out due to an injury, most fans expected Paul George to lead Los Angeles. James Harden, however, stepped up and led the Clippers with 28 points and eight assists. Kyrie Irving, who finished the game with 31 points, was asked about his former teammate following the game.

Kyrie Irving excited to compete against James Harden

Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) signals after a 3-point basket over Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) in the first half at Arena.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Irving and Harden were previously teammates with the Brooklyn Nets, and Kyrie had nothing but positive things to say about the Clippers star following Sunday's affair.

“I think me and James didn't get enough reps (with the Nets),” Irving said, via Law Murray of The Athletic. “We played a few games together, but we didn't get enough reps. When you are playing with somebody that special it makes the game easier. But playing against him, you can tell when he comes out with an aggressive mindset it's a different team… It's good to be on the other side. Definitely miss him, but at the same time glad that we get to compete against each other now.”

Kyrie Irving gets real on defeat

Harden and the Clippers presented a difficult challenge for the Mavs on Sunday. The Mavericks were not sure of Kawhi Leonard's official status until Sunday, and his absence obviously impacted the gameplan. It is only one game, but Kyrie Irving still referred to the loss as a “failed test.”

“I think this was a great first test for us,” Irving said, via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “We obviously failed, we came out with a loss. I think there are some things we can take into Game 2… Just not overthink it. I talked about this a few weeks back. It's a series. Not a time to lose confidence. We know some of my teammates are going to shoot better going into Game 2. We just want to continue to feed them confidence.”

The Mavericks endured a difficult start to the game. Los Angeles started strong and Dallas did not have much of an answer to begin the game, especially on the offensive end of the floor. Mavs head coach Jason Kidd addressed Dallas' all-around performance in Game 1.

“We did dig ourselves a hole… Positive is that we kept fighting there in the second half,” Kidd said. “We expected the Clippers to come out and be physical, we just didn't respond in that first to their physicality.”

Kyrie Irving and the Mavericks will look to bounce back in Game 2. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 PM EST on Tuesday in Los Angeles.