The last time the Clippers played the Mavericks was a historic result, and for all the wrong reasons. Dallas had substantial motivation for wanting to beat the Clippers after losing in the playoffs and being winless to start the season — and LA was without Kawhi Leonard because of a facial injury — but the margin of defeat was still eye-popping.
The Clippers now get their chance to make things right against the Mavericks, but they’re not in as good of shape as they would have hoped. Patrick Beverley didn’t make the trip from Los Angeles, Serge Ibaka missed the final three quarters of Sunday’s game with back tightness, and the team’s defense was in shambles in New Orleans.
On the one hand, that could provide some incentive for the Clippers to correct their defensive woes. On the other hand, Dallas isn’t going to make things easy for them.
When: Monday, Mar. 15 at 6:00 p.m. PT
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio
Opposing perspective: Mavs Moneyball
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (25-15): Reggie Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum
Mavericks (20-17): Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
Clippers: Patrick Beverley (knee soreness), Mfiondu Kabengele (health and safety) — OUT
Mavericks: James Johnson (personal reasons), Tyrell Terry (illness) — QUESTIONABLE
The Mavericks are a much improved team from the beginning of the season. They are 7-2 since the Texas storms gave them a break in the schedule, one of the losses coming to Philadelphia and the other in a game that Luka Doncic sat. Over the past two weeks, they have a top-10 offense and defense, as they start to resemble the contenders they were projected to be during the preseason.
The key to slowing Dallas will be pressuring Doncic, but that’s difficult considering his handle (the Mavericks are one of the league’s best teams at protecting the ball) and his size. Normally, Beverley would be the first line of defense, so the Clippers will likely have to turn to Nic Batum and also switch in Paul George and Leonard liberally. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Terance Mann to also show how much he has grown.
With Ibaka ailing and Dallas a high-volume 3-point shooting team, this could be an opportunity for the Clippers to go small a bit more often. The Mavericks take fewer than 30 percent of their shots at the rim (compared to 42.1 percent for New Orleans), so LA could sacrifice some rim protection for switchability and quickness on the perimeter.
This is the first of two games in three days that the Clippers have against the Mavericks, and the Clippers have split every road “set” they’ve had thus far. Normally, a split against a good team wouldn’t be that concerning, but the Clippers are looking for a little more consistency these days. Will they find it in Dallas?