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Clippers vs. Dallas - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
April 12th, 2010, 7:30 PM
Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Steve Blake
PG Jason Kidd
Mardy Collins
SG DeShawn Stevenson
Rasual Butler
SF Caron Butler
DeAndre Jordan
PF Dirk Nowitzki
Chris Kaman
C Erick Dampier


The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

The Clippers got their "last week of the season" win Saturday night against the Warriors, so I wouldn't be expecting much more.  Certainly not against a Dallas team that can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Western Conference - the Mavs don't want to lose this one, and the Clippers don't really care one way or the other.  It also doesn't help that about half the team could miss the game.  Baron Davis won't play, and is probably done for the season with a sprained wrist.  Beyond Baron, Drew Gooden, Eric Gordon, Craig Smith and Travis Outlaw lie along the injury spectrum from doubtful to probable.  My guess is that we'll see a guard rotation featuring Steve Blake, Mardy Collins and Bobby Brown tonight, as we did for the second half on Saturday.  Collins and Brown should make the most of it, since these are probably their last two games in the NBA.  

The Antagonist:

The Mavericks will be missing Shawn Marion themselves, but they have more than enough horses and motivation to win this one.  With so many Clipper bigs hurting, the question is who will guard Dirk Nowitzki?  Will DeAndre Jordan actually draw the start and the defensive assignment against Dirk?  That would be quite a test for DJ, one that I suspect he will fail pretty miserably.  I predict three fouls in five minutes if DJ is on Dirk.  

The Subplots:

  • Two more games.  Only two more games until the off-season, when we can start dreaming of better days.
  • Fan Appreciation Night.  The NBA keeps scheduling the Lakers for the final game of the season, so the Clippers keep having to schedule Fan Appreciation night a game early.  But that's better than having a bunch of Laker fans boo all of the giveaways.  Let's hope the game is a little more competitive than last season's edition, when the Thunder won by 40. 
  • Best road team in the NBA.  Somewhat surprinsingly to me, the Mavericks are tied with the Cavs and the Celtics for the best road record in the NBA at 26-14.  And given that Dallas is in the Western Conference, and therefore plays almost twice as many road games against Western Conference teams as Boston and Cleveland, I feel comfortable saying that the Mavs are the best road team in the NBA.
  • First two meetings.  The first two Clippers-Mavs games were strange, and strangely similar, affairs.  In each, the Mavs built a big lead, only to have the Clippers go on a second half run that got them back into the game, only to have the Mavs go on a huge run of their own to put the game away again.  Way back in November, it was all Clippers for the first six minutes of the fourth, followed by all Mavs the final six minutes.  A couple weeks ago in Dallas, it was all Clippers for the first nine minutes of the second half, followed by nine minutes of Mavs domination.
  • The German Connection.  The next time Kaman plays a game that matters, it could be as Nowitzki's teammate on team Deutschland at the World Championships in Turkey.  Coach Dick Bauermann must be licking his schnitzel at Kaman's new offensive game.  But it remains to be seen if Nowitzki and Kaman will commit to the team this summer.  For his part, Kaman has said that if Dirk is in, he's in.
  • Playoff race.  The Western Conference playoff race is as crazy as I've ever seen.  First of all, it looks like all eight playoff teams in the West are going to win 50 games.  Eight teams with 50 wins!  That's crazy.   And that's the price of admission into the playoffs in the West.  So it ain't easy, and won't be easy next year, even with Blake Griffin.  The four teams are within one game of each other from second to fifth, and three others are tied for sixth through eighth.  So with just two games left, seven of the eight Western conference playoff teams still have a lot of jockeying to do - like two or three rungs of the latter to deal with still.  The Mavs are definitely in the driver's seat for the second seed - they have a one game lead, play the Clippers tonight and are home to the Spurs on Wednesday.  They also own the head to head tiebreaker with Phoenix and Denver (but not with Utah).
  • Movie Quote: 

    Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew, Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash and Captain Dallas, are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.

    Ripley, Alien (1979).  One of the great movies of all time.  I was dreading the movie quote today, since there are no decent 'maverick' quotes (it's all James Garner and Tom Cruise), and then I remembered that Tom Skerritt's character in Alien was named Dallas.  It's hard to believe that 30 years later Sigourney Weaver is still getting sent out into space by directors.
  • Get the Mavs perspective at Mavs Moneyball.