Four-Pointer: Previewing the Los Angeles Clippers

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, the Mavs are all too familiar with the Clippers being a force on both ends of the court.

What have the Clippers done lately?

Los Angeles just wrapped up a five game road trip against the Phoenix Suns last night. They faced all Western Conference opponents and fared pretty well going 4-1, including a comeback win against said Suns. The Clippers now have a record of 54-22 and sit in the third seed in the West. Mavericks' fans may remember that the Clippers swung through Dallas on their road trip. It was another game which the Mavs let slip away. It seems like those games are becoming innumerable for Dallas.

What are Los Angeles' biggest strength and weakness?

The Clippers are the best offense in the league. They have an offensive rating of 111.8 and score 107.6 points per game (as of this writing). Not only that, but Lob City also has one of the highest paces in the league at 95.6. Common sense would lead one to believe that the higher a team's pace, the worse they would be. The Sixers have the highest pace in the league, after all. Actually, though, with the way the offenses are shifting, pace is becoming all that more important. Four of the top 10 teams in pace (Rockets, Clippers, Warriors, Thunder) are essentially a lock for a postseason berth. One other, the Suns, is battling for a spot.

While the Clippers are an offensive juggernaut, they are certainly no slouch on the defensive end. Los Angeles has the sixth best defensive rating in the NBA at 104.4 and only gives up 100.5 points per game. Where they are most successful is defending the three-point shot. Opponents only connect on 33.3 percent of their three-point attempts against the Clippers. That is the lowest percentage in the league.

If there is one thing Los Angeles doesn't do well it is grab offensive rebounds. They are 29th in total offensive rebounds and only collect 25.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds. So, at least they don't get many second-chance scoring opportunities but they don't really need them since they connect on 52.6 percent of their shots. Le sigh.

Which Clippers player might be due for a big game?

Just because this will make everyone really mad, Snidely Whiplash AKA Matt Barnes will probably have a big game. In the month of March, Barnes averaged 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.4 steals. He did this while shooting 49.1 percent on field goals and 36.6 percent from behind the arc.

The Clippers have plenty of scorers that the Mavericks need to account for, even with recent injuries, that it stands to reason that Barnes could slip through the defensive cracks (for Dallas this equates to the Grand Canyon) and have a big night.

What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Clips?

Scenario one: It's late in the game; the Mavericks are up by five points. In order to hold on to the win they have to get two consecutive stops. They fail to so and lose on a Chris Paul dagger.

Scenario two: It's the second quarter; the Mavericks are down 36...

So, if the Mavs reverse those scenarios they might come away with a win. The main thing, though, is they need to keep the Clippers off the free throw line. L.A. goes to the line a lot.

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