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Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks - Game Preview

2010/2011 NBA Regular Season

American Airlines Center
March 30th, 2011, 5:30 PM
Probable starters:
Mo Williams
PG Jason Kidd
DeShawn Stevenson

Eric Gordon SG Rodrigue Beaubois
Jamario Moon
SF Shawn Marion
Blake Griffin
PF Dirk Nowitzki
Chris Kaman
DeAndre Jordan

C Tyson Chandler

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

A week ago it seemed as if the Clippers had started their off-season a little early, as they put in extremely poor effort in Phoenix a couple of days after losing to these Mavs in LA. But since then they've had two come from behind wins against playoff teams, and came close to getting a third Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, so hang onto your stamps because they haven't mailed in the season yet. If the Clippers need a little extra motivation late in another non postseason season, how about this - the Mavs have beaten them eight straight times and 14 times in the last 15 games, not to mention eight straight in Dallas. Or how about what Jason Terry said after the last meeting? "It’s a game we had to win. They’re a bad team. They’re not a good team." Yeah, I'd say they should be plenty motivated. The Clippers actually managed to stay close to the Mavs 9 days ago in LA, on a night when Eric Gordon shot 4 for 18 and Mo Williams was ejected. So if they can get a could night from Gordon and keep Williams from getting chased, maybe they'll have a chance tonight. In the fourth quarter of that last meeting, Blake Griffin tried to put the team on his back and carry them, and Dallas had absolutely no answer for him. I anticipate a big game from him tonight.

The Antagonist:

The Mavericks have not won a game since they beat the Clippers back on March 30th. That's a four game losing streak, a week shy of the playoffs. The idea of catching the Lakers for second place in the West seems unlikely at this point (although the Lakers have lost three straight themselves), and now the Mavs have the Thunder breathing down their necks as well. Looking at the box scores for the last three Mavs losses, one is struck by one thing immediately - Dirk Nowitzki did not lead them in scoring in any of those games. This team is built around getting scores for Dirk, and when they don't, or when he's off, it's rarely going to end well. If Dirk has been in a mini-slump, Shawn Marion has been playing some of his best ball of the season. In the last three games, he's scored 21, 19 and 21, on 28 for 42 shooting.

The Subplots

  • [Note by Steve Perrin, 04/08/11 4:25 PM PDT ] Lineup News. Jason Kidd is officially a scratch for the Mavs. Last game, they started Stevenson but obviously he's not the point guard; Beaubois will take on the ballhandling in the starting lineup, unless they decide to start JJB. It was just easier to cross out Kidd and insert Stevenson than to move everything around. For the Clippers, Kaman is listed as day-to-day according to Lisa D with a sprained knee suffered Wednesday night when Blake Griffin fell into him. Given the situation, it's hard to imagine Kaman playing if he's less than 100%. Chandler will give it a go tonight for the Mavs. Many thanks to Citizen lovingla for posting these tidbits in the FanShots.
  • Set the DVR. Tonight's game will be on broadcast TV, on KCOP, Channel 13. So if you don't have cable or a dish, you're in luck. Then again, if you don't have cable or a dish, you're probably not my audience for this blog, so never mind. There's no pre-game show or post-game show, but they will have the game, which is nice. When the schedule first came out it seemed strange that there was this lone late season game that wasn't on TV. I guess the Fox Sports channels both have baseball tonight, but fortunately KCOP stepped up.
  • Spoiler-schmoiler - The teams already eliminated from playoff contention are often said to be playing spoiler in late season games. But with the playoffs being a zero sum game, it begs the question, whom are they spoiling. If the Clippers beat the Mavs tonight, they hurt the Mavs - while at the same time helping the Lakers and the Thunder. If they lose to the Mavs, they are playing spoiler to two teams, by hurting the Lakers and the Thunder. Now, if you've got some particular grudge against a team, then great, spoil away. But I doubt it's the Clippers' goal to help the Lakers. At any rate, the reason to play hard is because it's the right way to play, and goodness knows Vinny Del Negro wants the team to "play the right way."
  • Beaubois Schmeaubois. At the end of his rookie campaign last season, Roddy Beaubois came on strong and was decreed the solution at two guard for the Mavs, not to mention a star in waiting. He was one of the more talked about players in Summer League last summer (where frankly, he had some great games and some terrible games). Then he broke his foot before the season started and missed the first 54 games. Since he's been back, he's been anything but a star. He's shooting just 44% this year, after shooting 52% last year. Whether it's a matter of getting back into a rhythm after the injury, or perhaps a case of a guy who was never really as good as he looked in a couple of games in April 2010, we'll just have to wait and see.
  • Please, just stop Barea. I don't even care if who wins the game. I really don't. I just want J.J. Barea to be held below his season averages. Just once, I'd like for him to shoot in the low 40s, as he does against every other damn team in the league, rather then 75%. It's really not that much to ask.
  • Dallas lineup. It's rarely easy to predict what's happening with the Dallas lineup - the wing positions have been something of a revolving door between the injuries to Caron Butler (out for the season) and Beaubois (returned from injury in February), with Shawn Marion, Barea, Corey Brewer, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry, Brian Cardinal and even Sasha Pavlovic all getting starts on the wing this season. Now, Tyson Chandler's back is sore and Jason Kidd got the night off from Rick Carlisle on Wednesday, so neither of them started in the last game. So who knows who's really going to start or play for the Mavs. If Chandler is out, Brendan Haywood will get the start in his place. If Kidd is out, Barea will step in. So I guess that means I want Kidd to play.
  • Stop the role players. It seems like when the Clippers play the Mavs, Dallas gets huge contributions from unlikely sources. Last season, in a game that Dirk got himself tossed out of, Jason Kidd scored 26 to lead a come from behind Mavs win. Kidd also scored 27 against the Clippers in March of 2008. In fact, Kidd has a total of three games of more than 25 points as a Mav - and two of them have come against the Clippers. Beaubois had his coming out party against the Clippers last March, scoring 10 points in the final 15 minutes. And of course, J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler went nuts against LAC in January, and then Barea did it again nine days ago in LA. Nowitzki hasn't been the problem for the Clippers recently - it's everybody else.
  • 50 win scalps. We've discussed many times how the Clippers are the only team in the league to have beaten all six division leaders in the NBA. They've also beaten seven of the nine teams in the NBA who have reached or could reach 50 wins. The only teams on that list the Clippers haven't beaten this season are Orlando and Dallas. They won't get another shot at Orlando this season, but they have this one last crack at Dallas. They have certainly played some good games against some elite teams this season, and a win over Dallas would fit very nicely with the other big wins.
  • Clippers' leading scorer. With three games left in the season, suddenly there is a question as to who the Clippers' leading scorer will be this year. Ralph and Mike continue to refer to Eric Gordon as a 24 point a game scorer, but he's been in a scoring slump since returning from his wrist injury, and he's now down to 22.509 points per game. Griffin on the other hand is coming off a 35 point performance that raised his average to 22.506. It's that close - 3 one thousandths of a point per game difference. It's so close, that a single point for Griffin would give him a higher scoring average.
  • The next question. So the next question is, how many teams in the league have two players have 20 points per game or more? The answer is four - Miami with Wade and James, New York with Amare and Carmelo, Oklahoma City with Durant and Westbrook and the Clippers. Not bad.
  • Superstar for one game. Jose Juan Barea. Who else? I need the reverse mojo to work on JJ tonight.
  • From Wikipedia:

    Samuel Augustus Maverick (July 23, 1803–September 2, 1870) was a Texas lawyer, politician, land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His name is the source of the term "maverick," first cited in 1867, which means "independently minded."
  • Get the Mavericks perspective at Mavs Moneyball.