The Dallas Mavericks host the Los Angeles Clippers Friday and will attempt to bounce back from the thorough whipping they took from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. The 33-point loss was the worst of the season for Dallas.
It’s a matchup of teams trending in different directions. Dallas has lost five of their last seven games, while the Clippers have won five of seven.
It looks like the Mavs will catch a break, though. Blake Griffin has been inching towards a return from surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow, and while he hasn’t been ruled out of Friday’s game Clippers coach Doc Rivers says a Sunday return against the Rockets is more likely.
Still, the Mavericks will have their work cut out for them. The Clippers are coming off an impressive win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and their key players, other than BG, are playing their best basketball of the year.
Chris Paul has been on an absolute tear recently. In his last nine games he’s averaging 23.3 points, 12.2 assists, and 4.3 rebounds on 51% shooting. Seems like he’s been on a personal mission to obliterate any “elite” point guard that stands in his way, too.
Paul dropped 36 and 12 on Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers last week, and held Lillard to 1-13 shooting. He also had 33 and 9 against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on Wednesday, while pestering Westbrook into a 5-14 shooting performance with 10 turnovers. Paul also held Steph Curry to 12 points and 4 assists on 3-9 shooting this past Sunday.
In his two games against Dallas this season Paul has averaged 21 points and 13 assists. Rajon Rondo was only active for the 20-point loss back in January, but was throughly outplayed. Paul scored 17 points and collected 13 assists, while Rondo shot 1-11 from the floor and scored two points.
Perhaps more worrisome than Paul, however, is DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan, my pick for DPOY, has taken his game to a new level since Griffin went down. In 17 games since February 8th, Jordan has averaged 14.9 points and 18.5 rebounds. You read that correctly. For over a month of the season the dude has averaged 18.5 rebounds a night. For some perspective, Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas’ top two rebounders, combine for 17.5 boards a night.
Jordan had 27 rebounds, a career-high, against the Mavericks in their last meeting. Tyson Chandler only played one minute of the game before sustaining an ankle injury, and Amar’e Stoudemire wasn’t yet on the roster. They should help this time around, but nobody has been able to slow the former-Aggie down. Sidenote: if you’re looking for some giggles, check out some of the players taken before Jordan in the 2008 draft.
As for the Mavericks, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to the embarrassing loss to the Cavs and Amar’e Stoudemire’s postgame comments.
As bad as the Mavericks have been, they’re only 2.5 games back of the fourth-place Rockets. Perhaps Stoudemire’s public rant was the kick in the rear they needed. If they want to make a push, a win against Los Angeles would be a good way to start.
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