Less than a week ago, the Clippers made headlines acquiring Norman Powell alongside Robert Covington in a trade with the Portland Blazers.
Since then, the Clippers dropped three in a row to fall three games behind the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. Don’t let the record fool you, though.
Powell, in the absence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, has stepped up as the team’s first option, capable of scoring double-digits night in and night out — in his stint with the Clippers, he’s averaging 21 points on an efficient 47.6 percent shooting from the field, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Despite his shorter frame, the explosive wing has been seen blowing by defenders for athletic finishes near the rim. From behind the arc, he’s knocking down close to 41 percent of his shots this season. When he does find himself behind the free-throw line, which he does more about five times a game, he’s cashing in on over 80 percent. Although he may not be the traditional playmaker the Clippers wanted or needed, he’s capable of pushing the ball up the floor for a fast Zubac slam or an open three. All in all, he’s been an exciting addition to the team: a legitimate offensive threat that can reduce the load on the Los Angeleno superstars’ shoulders.
Not so exciting, however, is how the team’s been playing the past week.
The Clips are just coming back from a defeat against the Mavericks’ Luka Dončić and his 51-point scoring explosion. Whether you like it or not, the team will take on ‘Luka Magic’ again tomorrow for a second shot at coming out of Texas with a win.
When: Saturday, February 12 at 5.30 p.m. PT
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
How to watch/listen: BSSW-DALBSSC; KEGL/KFZOKLAC/KWKW-LAC
Opposing perspective: Mavs Moneyball
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Mavericks: Jalen Brunson, Luka Dončić, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell
Clippers: Norman Powell — QUESTIONALBE; Jay Scrubb, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Mavericks: Marquese Chriss, Tim Hardaway Jr. — OUT
Most urgently, they will need to find a way to extinguish the fire on Luka’s hands. And one big way to do so is to prevent a Dončić-Zubac mismatch as much as possible. Against a slower and less agile Zubac, Dončić navigated, with ease, to open himself up for a three — he drained 7 of his long-range looks just in the first quarter.
A Dončić-Batum matchup, conversely, might be more favorable for the Clips. Not only has the Frenchman proved capable of slowing him down in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but his agility and length will also make it harder for Dončić to have easier shots from deep and in the paint. Or sending traps and double-teaming Dončić might be the answer for the Clippers.
True, it’s easier said than done. But not allowing the Mavericks to switch slower defenders on Dončić will be a big factor as to how well Ty Lue and the Clippers are able to thwart another scoring outburst from the Slovenian superstar — especially in the first quarter.
On the other end of the floor, the trio of Powell (if he plays), Reggie Jackson, and Marcus Morris Sr. will need to be at their best if they want to cap their losing streak at three.
This post will serve as the game thread. Enjoy the game, and comment below.