Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Game Day Preview
By Jay Knodell
The Dallas Mavericks were dealt a crushing loss in Denver on Sunday, and face the Los Angeles Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back. Here’s what to know about the game.
The Dallas Mavericks (33-30) failed to capitalize on losses by the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday as they blew a very winnable game in Denver against the Nuggets. Now, on the second night of a back-to-back, Dallas hosts DeAndre Jordan and the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers (40-21) at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas is 2-9 against the current top-four seeds in the western conference (GSW, SAS, OKC, LAC) with one of those wins coming against the Steph Curry-less Warriors. That other win though came against the Clippers in Dallas.
There’s precedent, and the Mavericks could sure use a win against one of the best teams in the league. But it will be tough, especially after another grueling overtime game, in Denver’s thin air no less.
Here’s what to know ahead of tip-off.
Players to Watch
Of course there’s the obvious reason to pay attention to DeAndre Jordan on Monday night, as he’ll have to deal with an especially unfriendly environment on the road. But his play will have a lot to do with the outcome. Jordan is having perhaps his best season as a pro, averaging over 12 points and 14 rebounds a night. Since Blake Griffin has been out of the lineup Jordan has been even better, upping his averages to 13.6 points and 14.9 boards per outing. Dallas must do a good job preventing him from earning the Clippers extra possessions, as Jordan has come down with four offensive rebounds a night in his last 10 games.
Nowitzki logged over 35 minutes against Denver, but is expected to suit up against the Clippers on the second night of the back-to-back. He’s coming off of another excellent shooting night against the Nuggets, and has been great against the Clips this season. In two games Dirk has averaged 23.5 points and 9.0 rebounds on 59% shooting. He’s also drilled six of his nine three-point attempts against Los Angeles.
Numbers to Know
Chris Paul remains one of the best players in the league, but the Mavericks have done a good job stifling his impact in their two meetings this season. He went 3-8 against Dallas the first time, and 2-11 in Dallas on Veteran’s Day, for a 26% average. The Mavericks have a bunch of guys they can throw at Paul, from the pesky J.J. Barea to the more physically imposing Wesley Matthews. Keeping CP3 in check again will go a long way towards a Mavericks victory.
The number 4 represents how many times in Dallas’ last 25 games that they have out-rebounded their opponent. And it’s costing them games. The Mavericks hit seven more three-pointers and shot better from the field overall against Denver, but gave up 17 offensive rebounds and took 14 fewer shots. Luckily, other than Jordan, Los Angeles isn’t a great rebounding team either. The battle on the boards looms large.
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Key to Victory
It’s probably getting to be repetitive at this point, but for a team that lives and dies by the three-ball so much having success there against the Clippers will probably make or break the game for Dallas. The Mavericks hit 9.8 a game, good for sixth in the league, with the Clippers right on their heels with 9.6 makes a night. Dallas must be careful leaving J.J. Redick to help against the rim-rolling Jordan or lane-penetrating Paul. The former Duke Blue Devil is connecting on over 47% of his three-point attempts this season, good for second in the league. Both teams generally guard the perimeter well, we’ll see how it plays out.