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Clippers-Mavericks preview: Horseshoes and Banana Boats

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DeAndre Jordan almost signed with Dallas. You know what they say about 'almost'.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 NBA Regular Season
vs
Dallas Mavericks (3-4)

Los Angeles Clippers (5-2)
November 11, 2015 — 5:00 PM PDT
American Airlines Center — Dallas, TX
ESPN, Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
3-4 Record 5-2
0-2 East 0-0
3-2 West 5-2
1-1 Division 3-1
1-2 Home 4-1
2-2 Road 1-1
0-2 .500+ 0-2
3-2 .500– 5-0
0-0 OT 0-0
3-4 L10 5-2
Projected Starters
Deron Williams PG Chris Paul
Wesley Matthews SG J.J. Redick
Chandler Parsons SF Lance Stephenson
Dirk Nowitzki PF Blake Griffin
Zaza Pachulia C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('14-'15)
100.5 (13th) Pace 101.7 (9th)
99.7 (15th) OffRtg 104.6 (4th)
101.9 (18th) DefRtg 98.8 (12th)
-2.2 (18th) NetRtg 5.9 (7th)
Injury Report
JaVale McGee (leg) out
'15'-16' Season Series (Clippers lead 1-0)
Date
Venue
Final
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
10/29/2015
Los Angeles
Clippers 104, Mavericks 88
Recap
Box Score

The Big Picture:

The big story is the obvious story. Back in July, DeAndre Jordan almost signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Then, after a flurry of emojis, banana boats, and barricaded doors, he was a Clipper again, and Mark Cuban was left holding a big old bag of Zaza Pachulia (who's actually been pretty good, but still). This isn't the first time this season these two teams have played one another, but it is the first time they've played in Dallas, which is an important distinction. For the Clippers, this is also the fourth game in a row against a team that hates them. They won just one of the prior 'rivalry' games, and they played well in just one of those games, and those weren't the same game. Tonight, it would be nice to see them do both.

The Antagonist:

The Mavericks are in a transition phase, but after the turnabout events of the summer, are suddenly left without a destination. Dirk Nowitzki is still a transformative player and the hub of Rick Carlisle's offense, but his aging 7'0" frame is unable to shoulder the load it once did. Age and injury are issues up and down the roster. Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons are both recovering from serious leg injuries, with the younger Parsons progressing more slowly. Deron Williams is a perpetual health question mark. Raymond Felton is perpetually fat. JaVale McGee will bring some size and athleticism when he returns, but when has he ever been the answer to any question that wasn't, "Which NBA player once ran in the wrong direction?" The Mavs head into tonight's game clearly overmatched. But with a crowd that's likely to be calling for blood and Mark Cuban standing amidst it all with a foreboding thumb pointing down, will they find what it takes to finish the Clippers?

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of Key Metrics. DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers have him and the Mavs don't.
  • Schedule. The Clippers get right back to it tomorrow night in Phoenix for another nationally televised roadie. They come home for a Saturday matinee against the rising Pistons, then rest for FOUR FULL DAYS before welcoming the Warriors to town.
  • Rotation games. Since Doc's lineup choices seem to be a favored topic of the young season, I want to present some basic stats, without further comment. Minutes per game: Lance Stephenson 21.1, Austin Rivers 21.1, Jamal Crawford 21.0, Paul Pierce 21.0, Wesley Johnson 13.3. Total fourth-quarter minutes: Jamal Crawford 50, Austin Rivers 45, Luc Mbah a Moute 8, Cole Aldrich 7, Lance Stephenson 1. Blake Griffin's total minutes, not counting Saturday night against Houston when Chris Paul sat: 211. Blake Griffin's total minutes on the floor with Chris Paul: 180.
  • Chandler Dinged. According to a CBS Sports report from Monday, Chandler Parsons will be limited to 15 minutes per game until further notice. He played 17 minutes last night as the Mavs were getting smoked by New Orleans.
  • A Tale of Two Recoveries. Speaking of Parsons, he is one of two prominent Dallas wings recovering from major surgery. In May, he underwent a bone marrow transplant from his hip to help regenerate cartilage in his knee, the gravity of which the team did not disclose until September. Summer signee Wes Matthews famously suffered an achilles tear in March, coincidentally against the Mavericks, but still snagged a 4-year/$70 million contract from Mark Cuban in free agency. The 29 year-old Matthews has looked spry, even if his numbers don't show it, in thus far defying the brutal history of athletes recovering from achilles tears. The younger Parsons still looks hobbled and clearly misses some of his old quickness and lift. On paper, this is a potent perimeter duo, but they won't reach their full potential until they're fully healthy and recovered.
  • Replacing DeAndre. Thank goodness this wasn't a story we had to write at Clips Nation. It's Mark Cuban who was on the wrong end of the summer plot twist, and his response was to sign NBA veterans Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee. JaVale McGee hasn't played yet due to a stress fracture, and since we're all familiar with his JaVale-ness, we'll just say that sometime in the near future, the Mavericks will get back JaVale McGee. Pachulia, on the other hand, appears to have successfully transitioned from long-time backup to successful starter. The hulking Georgian has been at his most efficienct in his 13th season, so far carrying a career high in PER. Also, despite the larger role, he has increased not just his total rebounds but his rebound rate. Maybe that lessens the sting some.
  • For the Mavericks' point of view, head over to Mavs Moneyball.
  • The rest. Your reminder that Blake Griffin is great and we are all not worthy, because you need to see it again... ESPN is hyping up tonight's matchup with lots of Mark Cuban and Steve Ballmer... This will already be the Clippers' fourth game against a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Clippers are 2-1 in those games...