The Clippers came into Monday’s game on their best behavior, hoping to atone for their mistakes in their game the day before against New Orleans and their previous matchup against Dallas back in December. Now the motivation has shifted, as the Mavericks have had two days to sit with their loss.
Other than Paul George’s shooting line, everything went well for the Clippers in the first game of their Dallas set. Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac seamlessly slotted into the starting lineup, Morris clearly making his case with his added offensive firepower for why that will be a permanent shift, and Zubac providing the rim deterrence necessary against Luka Doncic. Kawhi Leonard was a defensive menace in the second half, showing more effectiveness on that end than he has in a long while.
The only reason the Mavericks were in the game was because of their high volume and efficiency from the 3-point line, specifically above the break. The Clippers did a good job of keeping their opponent out of the paint, off the free throw line, and out of transition. Offensively, LA had its lowest turnover percentage in a month, and that lack of mistakes was critical to earning the win.
When: Wednesday, Mar. 17 at 6:30 p.m. PT
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
How to watch/listen: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio, fuboTV
Opposing perspective: Mavs Moneyball
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (26-15): Reggie Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum
Mavericks (20-18): Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
Clippers: Serge Ibaka (back tightness) — QUESTIONABLE; Patrick Beverley (knee soreness) — OUT
Mavericks: Dorian Finney-Smith (personal) — QUESTIONABLE; James Johnson (health and safety) — OUT
So what can Dallas do to flip the script? If Serge Ibaka is starting in place of Zubac, LA’s rim protection might take a bit of a hit, which could allow the Mavericks to play more inside-out instead of indiscriminately chucking up threes, which to be fair, worked out alright the first time around.
The problem for Dallas though, as it has been since last year, is that that the Mavericks are powerless to stop Leonard — and the LA offense by extension — when he gets going. Josh Richardson was a nice add to help on George, but there are no answers for Leonard. That issue could be further exacerbated if Dorian Finney-Smith is unavailable.
That’s no reason for the Clippers to rest on their laurels. The biggest gripe with this team has been its inconsistency, and LA hasn’t won back-to-back games in a month. This is a chance to end that streak against a team the Clippers match up well against.