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Clippers @ Dallas - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

American Airlines Center
January 6th, 2009, 5:30 PM
No TV - KSPN 710 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Jason Kidd
Eric Gordon SG Josh Howard
Al Thornton SF Devean George
Brian Skinner PF Dirk Nowitzki
Marcus Camby C Erick Dampier

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

It's the fourth and final meeting between these two teams, and the Mavericks figure to be at full strength for the first time. The first two were played without Josh Howard - the last one without Dirk Nowtzki. Meanwhile, the Clippers will be at their most depleted - missing their three highest paid players and a host of others. So while the Clippers won the first and should have won the second, this game figures to be more like the third - only worse. Mavs have all their All-Stars - Clippers have a makeshift roster - do the math.

The Antagonist:

After acquiring Jason Kidd last February, the Mavs had a lackluster finish to last season and an equally uninspiring start to this one. But they are 18-6 in their last 24 games, so maybe they just needed a little bit of time with their new personnel, and with new coach Rick Carlisle. Or maybe not. I'm still not convinced. If you look at their schedule these last 24 games, it's been squeezably soft like Mr. Whipple's beloved Charmin. Of those 18 wins, 14 came against teams with losing records. So give them credit for winning them (until Sunday in Memphis, when they got blown out) - but don't tell me they're a .600 team. They're my pick to miss the playoffs this year of the 9 Western Conference teams with winning records. They've got four really nice players in Dirk, Howard, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd - but Kidd is WAY past his prime, and they just don't have a lot past those guys. J.J. Barea?

The Subplots:

  • Eric Gordon - One bright spot in the Clippers dark season has been Eric Gordon. He has scored 20 or more in 4 straight games, including a career-high 31 in Sunday's loss. He scored the Clippers final 11 points in the game, and looked like the go to scorer for the end of close games that the Clippers have never had (the one that Baron Davis was supposed to be but hasn't been). Watching EJ this season, I've always gotten the feeling that he could do more if he needed to. Well, with Baron and Zach Randolph out, he's now the team's first option on offense, so we're getting to see what he can do.
  • Will Camby get 20 rebounds? Marcus Camby is the other bright spot. He has gotten 20 or more REBOUNDS in three of the last four games. That's pretty remarkable. He has closed to within one tenth of a rebound on league-leader Dwight Howard - and he'll take over the lead soon, possibly tonight. If the Clippers are indeed shopping him, they'd better get something good in return.
    Who backs up the back court? Seriously. Who? With Fred Jones injured and now waived, the Clippers are down to Mardy Collins and Gordon at the guard spots, assuming Jason Hart's sore elbow keeps him out. Mike Taylor has a broken thumb, Baron Davis has a sore bum and Ricky Davis likes him some blunt - so the first guard off the bench for the Clippers Tuesday night in Dallas, whoever it is, likely didn't even know he was on the team Tuesday morning. The Clippers have activated Ricky at this point, so tonight's game will be the first of his 5 game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. The league would frown upon the Clippers activating him before he's ready just to get the suspension clock ticking (though it might be tough to prove), so you can expect that he'll be back in uniform Saturday the 17th against the Bucks.
  • Jumping James Singleton. Former Clipper James Singleton has worked his way into Rick Carlisle's rotation over the last few weeks, and put up 11 and 8 in 25 minutes last week against his former mates. The game doesn't figure to be close, so James could play the entire fourth quarter.
  • Which will happen first? A Cheikh Samb blocked shot, or a DeAndre Jordan alley oop dunk?
  • No TV. Of course, we won't SEE James Singleton or SEE Cheikh Samb blocking shots, because the game is not on local TV. If you've got NBA League Pass, you get to watch. But I'm guessing you might wish you hadn't. - The above bullet reminds me of a web site created by a Warriors fan. He got tired of wasting hours watching games on his TiVo that were painful blowout losses, so he created a website that tells you if the final margin falls within a reasonable number. If your team loses in embarrassing fashion, you can find out in advance, without knowing the score. It miight be applicable to Clips Nation, especially for the next few weeks.
  • Get the Mavericks perspective at Mavs Moneyball.