After the devastating loss to the Golden State Warriors Monday night and a sub par 8 game home stand, the Dallas Mavericks (44-31) are forced to bounce back against the third place Los Angeles Clippers(54-22). The Clippers have 17 of their past 19 games and are only two games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder for second place in the West. If that’s not enough to have you worried, the Clippers are looking for the series sweep this season winning the last three against Dallas.
Keys of the Game: The Clippers are as complete of a team as they come meaning the every phase of the Mavs game will have to be near perfect to pull out a victory in Staples Center. Here I will go over my keys to giving the Mavs their chance at victory and one step closer to the playoffs.
– On ball defense: With Jamal Crawford out the Clippers have used the two point guard system against their opponents. After the terrible display of guard defense the Mavs threw out versus the Warriors, it will be important for Monta Ellis, Calderon, Harris and company to bounce back. The Clippers have gone to a two point guard system with Chris Paul and Darren Collison. With no height at the guard position the Mavs should be able to matchup well with this lineup. Monta and Calderon/Harris guarding Collison and Paul.
– Clippers Injuries: On January 15 when these two played the story of the game was J.J. Redick’s career high 33 points. He has been injured but looks to return tonight against the Mavericks. It will be important for the Mavs to show discipline on defense and have good rotations in order to not let Redick catch fire once again. Danny Granger and Jamal Crawford will both be inactive so the Clippers will at least have not as much depth as teams are used to seeing.
-Samuel Dalembert: Daly will need to be huge this game as the Mavs are playing one of the leagues top front courts. Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, and Glen Davis will pose a true challenge to the Mavs. With Brandan Wright being too thin, and Blair being a bit short for Jordan it will be up to Dalembert to play huge minutes and try to contain the Clippers big man. Dalembert has shown of late that he is capable. It will be up to him to show, however, if he is willing.
-Dirk and Monta: The two-man game is going to have to be huge and put up some great number against the Clippers. It certainly wasn’t the offense that was the cause of the loss to the Warriors, but they again will need to come up huge. The problem posed with playing the Clips is not only will the two have to be huge on offense, but Dirk is tasked with guarding either Blake Griffin or Deandre Jordan. At the same time Monta will have to stick on either the sharp shooter J.J. Redick or the speedy Darren Collison. No matter what way you slice it, the pair are up for a challenge on both sides of the ball.
Below is the current Western Conference Playoff picture with the Mavs, Grizzlies, and Suns all two games back of the Golden State Warriors.
6. Golden State Warriors 46-29
7. Dallas Mavericks 44-31
8. Memphis Grizzlies 44-31
9. Phoenix Suns 44-31