January 3, 2014 @ 7:30 CT
The Dallas Mavericks (19-13) will welcome the Los Angeles Clippers (22-12) to behind a 3 game home stand (11-4 at home).
The Mavericks opened 2014 with an ugly win over the Washington Wizards to complete a 3 game road trip sweep. The Mavericks improved to 8-9 on the road behind Monta Ellis’s 23 points. Though Dirk Nowitzki struggled (3-14 shooting), his ability to return and play after rolling his ankle in the opening minutes of the game was a sigh of relief to all. Jose Calderon also had trouble connecting on shots (3-14) as he missed plenty of open looks to finish with just 11 points. Vince Carter and Brandan Wright were able to make up for the off night by shooting a combined 9-17 and combining for 23 points.
The Clippers are coming into Dallas after demolishing the Charlotte Bobcats 112-85. Blake Griffin led the way with his 24th double-double (3rd in NBA) of the season (31 pts, 12 reb). Chris Paul notched his 26th double-double (2nd) with 17 pts and 14 assists.
The Clippers, like the Mavs, have struggled on the road as they are just 8-9 to this point.
They have won just 2 of their last 5 games after seeing their 5 game win streak snapped.
The Clippers are number 5 in the NBA in scoring with 104.7 points per game. Their ability to hold opponents to 99.3 points rank them 6th in NBA point differential (+5.4).
The Clippers rank right behind the number five Mavericks (46.6%) as they shoot 46.4% from the field.
Even with their high field goal percentage, the Clippers ranked just 26th in the NBA from the 3-pt line as they’re shooting just 33.3%. With their struggles to shoot the 3-ball they have been able to hold their opponents to just 32.9% from 3 (#3 in NBA).
Clippers also rank 27th in the NBA in free throw shooting as they’re shooting just 72% from the line. Griffin (70%) and DeAndre Jordan (39%) are the biggest reasons why.
Chris Paul is leading the league in assists (11.3) and is third in steals (2.48) while putting up 19.6 points per game.
Paul also leads the league with assisting on 54.2% of Clipper baskets.
Paul also leads the league with a 4.45 assists:turnover ration for players that have appeared in at least 24 games.
Blake Griffin is having another great season as he’s putting up 22 points and 10.5 rebounds. In his last 5 games he’s averaging 28.2 points, with scoring totals of 45, 35, and 31.
Jordan ranks second in the NBA in rebounds per game (13.4) and total offensive rebounds (139). He also leads the league with a 64.2% from the floor, in large part to getting easy baskets, tip ins, and dunks.
Jamal Crawford, who was moved to the starting lineup in place of J.J. Redick (injured) has put up 17.9 points per game (up from 16.0 from bench), but has seen his shooting percentage from 43.4 to just 37.7% during those 10 games.
Find a way to slow down Chris Paul! The Mavericks have struggle all season to slow down opposing point guards, and Paul is as good as they get. He enjoys facing the Mavericks as he’s put up 21.8 points (2nd most against any one team) and 9 assists per game in 26 career games. In 3 games last season he averaged 22 points and 11 assists against the Mavs. His ability to shoot, score, get to the basket and create make him a nightmare for any team he faces. Expect the Mavericks to trap and double him as they did last season in the final game of the series. Also expect Shawn Marion to start off on him given the lack of defensive ability of Calderon and Ellis.
Make sure Lob City doesn’t come to Dallas. The Mavericks must make Griffin and DeAndre Jordan work for their baskets. Though Griffin has improved his jump shot, it still is a weakness in his arsenal. Both of them thrive getting above the rim and with the lack of athleticism on the Mavericks roster they must get a body on them early and often. Limiting turnovers (15 against Wizards) and offensive rebounds (allowed 15 offensive rebounds) must be a point of emphasis.
Don’t allow the Clippers shooters to get hot from the perimeter. Although Redick is out, the Clippers still have capable shooters. Jared Dudley has struggled on the season (36.4%) but has the ability to get hot (6-9 vs Charlotte). Also when Crawford gets going can be tough to contain. Other notable shooters to watch out for are Willie Green and Mat Barnes.
Win the bench battle. With Crawford now starting the Clippers bench lacks a true go to scorer. Vince Carter, Brandan Wright, DeJuan Blair and the rest must be ready to expose the Clippers’ bench.
Nowitzki has gone gone scoreless in the first quarter in the last 3 wins. Though the Mavericks have survived and won the games they will need him to begin the game strong to lessen the burden on Ellis and Calderon.
The Clippers won the season series last season (2-1), with the Mavericks winning their only home game 109-102 behind Nowitzki’s 33 points. Paul also had 33 points, but was limited towards the end of the 4th and overtime due to the Mavericks trap.
Darren Collison will make his first appearance in Dallas after spending last season here. He’s averaging 8 points and 2 assists off the Clippers bench. He averaged 12 points and 5 assists in 81 games for the Mavericks last season.
Both teams have struggled against the top 8 Western Conference teams. The Clippers have lost 3 straight and the Mavericks have won only 1 of their last 4.
Even with their recent struggles, the Clippers are 15-6 against the West. The Mavericks have struggled and are 10-10
Ellis has averaged 18 points and 6 assists in 21 career games verse the Clippers. Calderon has averaged 11 points and 7 assists in just 14 career games.
This game pins two of the top four scoring power forwards in the game. The athletic Griffin ranks number 2 and the sweet shooting Nowitzki ranks 4th (20.9 pts).
Paul, Griffin, and Jordan have combined for 63 double doubles. The Mavs as a team have a total of 13 double-doubles with Marion leading the way with 6. Monta has 3, Blair 2, and Nowitzki and Dalembert each have 1.
As Paul leads the league in assist:turnover ratio, Calderon ranks 5th with a 3.87 ratio.
Dal-Devin Harris (Toe-Out), Nowitzki (Ankle-Probable)
LAC-Redick (Hand-Out), Reggie Bullock (Ankle-Out)
With a win the 8th place Mavericks will find themselves just one game behind the 4th place Clippers.
The Mavericks must hold court. If they can pull out a quality win against a top team they can easily see their 3 game win streak turn to 6 with the New York Knick and Los Angeles Lakers waiting.