The Dallas Mavericks, an NBA-best 26-10 on the road, are on a four-game winning streak and are 2-0 on their season-high six-game trip and they are in LA-LA land to take on the city’s two NBA franchises back-to-back, starting with the Los Angeles Clippers. Dallas (52-21) is only one game back of the Los Angeles Lakers for No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and will play the two-time defending champions Thursday. The Mavericks have lost five of six against the Lakers at Staples, but the Staples Center woes appear to stay away from the team when they play the Clippers there. The Mavericks have won four straight over the Clippers (29-45) in Los Angeles by an average of 17.5 points. Their last road meeting against the Clippers was the third game of the season (Oct. 31) and the Mavericks won the game 99-83. Dallas has now defeated the Clippers six out of the last seven times in Los Angeles.
The Mavericks have been able to flex their muscles against the Pacific Division over the course of the season. Dallas enters the match-up with the Clippers with a record of 12-1 against the Pacific Division this season. The Mavericks’ one loss against the Pacific Division came against the Lakers on Mar. 12.
The Mavericks have had issues with coming out of the gate slowly. Over their last three games, the team has only averaged 18 points in the opening quarter. They have had a hard time making shots and have been negligent with the ball as they have averaged 15.3 turnovers in those three games, many of which have come early in those games. "We want to eliminate (turnovers) without being robots out there. We play a free flowing game, but even in your flow game there's an element of execution," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We just want to make sure we're doing things that are the right things for us to be successful."
The Clippers are on the upswing, but they still have a long way to go before they can be considered a playoff contender in the Western Conference. They have a record of 6-17 against the top eight teams in the Western Conference and their record of 9-13 since the All-Star Break shows that they are still a work in progress. "We know the Clippers are a dangerous team," Carlisle said. "We don't take anything for granted."
Dallas has done a good job of containing the Clippers’ franchise big man, Blake Griffin. The rookie out of the University of Oklahoma has averaged 19.0 points, 35.5 percent shooting and 10.0 rebounds in the two contests against the Mavericks this season. He is averaging 22.5 points, 50.6 percent from the field and 12.1 boards against the rest of the league. Expect the Mavericks to throw as many of their big bodies as they can against Griffin and Co. and throw different looks their way. Blake Griffin will be a test, but the Clippers also have other bigs the Mavs will have to worry about. “We’ve gotta play strong, we’ve gotta rebound the ball, but more importantly we’ve got to get bodies on their people and hit them first, otherwise they’re gonna come right over our backs,” Carlisle said. “They’re gonna come over our backs and they’re gonna be dunking and doing chin-ups on the rim. That’s the kind of athletes they’ve got and the kind of length that they’ve got. So, it’s a very challenging game from an inside the paint and physicality standpoint. These guys are top 3 in the league in offensive rebounds and top 4 in free throw attempts, so playing physical without putting them on the line is a big challenge for us.”
Tyson Chandler will be the main big man going up against the Clippers' big men, but he knows that it will be a team effort. “This is one of those nights where it can’t be one guy, it has to be five. It has to be five guys communicating, because with the way they attack and the way they get out and run it’s gonna take all five guys. One guy can’t stop them,” Chandler explained.
The Clippers, winners of 14 of 18 at home, should be well-rested as they haven't played since a 94-90 victory over Toronto at Staples Center on Saturday. They are also looking to win back-to-back contests for the first time since a season-best four-game run from March 2-9.
As mentioned, this will be the first night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks as they take on the Lakers on Thursday. Dallas is 11-6 in the first half of back-to-backs and 13-4 in the second half of back-to-backs. They have recorded eight sweeps and have been swept just one time in a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 20 back-to-backs scheduled this year, after they played 20 in 2009-10. Dallas went 15-5 in the first game of a back-to-back and 12-8 in the second game of a back-to-back in 2009-10.
The game between theand the Los Angeles Clippers will tip off at 9:30 pm CST.
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