What has LA done lately?
Before an ugly loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday night, the Clippers had been racking up wins at a prodigious clip. They have lost only twice in the last month, although both those losses have come in the last week. Ever since Chris Paul returned from a shoulder injury in early February, an injury he suffered in Dallas in early January, LA has been almost unbeatable. Their loss in New Orleans was the start of a five-game road trip through the heart of the West - they have games against Houston, Minnesota and Phoenix coming up.
Which stat, player of fact might surprise you about the Clippers?
As you would expect for a contender based in Southern California, the Clippers have been huge winners of the buy-out sweepstakes, adding Danny Granger and Big Baby Davis to their rotation after the trade deadline. Granger is far removed from his days as an All-Star and Davis has never been anything more than a serviceable rotation big man, but both are huge upgrades on what had been a disastrous second unit earlier in the season. Granger is averaging 8 points and 2.5 rebounds on 43% shooting in Los Angeles while Davis is chipping in 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 53% shooting.
Which team stat might determine the game?
While the Clippers are 2-0 against the Mavs this season, Dallas had the game in LA more or less won before allowing the Clippers to rally from a 17-point deficit with 5 minutes left. One of the big differences in the two games was rebounding - in the game they lost in Dallas, the Mavs allowed Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to combine for 33 rebounds. In the game in LA, the two had a more manageable 20. Keeping the Clippers massive front-line off the glass tonight will be an even bigger challenge if Sam Dalembert, who will be a game-time decision, cannot go.
What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Clippers?
Fight fire with fire. The Clippers, who have the No. 1 rated offense in the NBA, have been able to score easily against the Mavs in both games, even without Paul. That's not likely to change now that they are playing their best basketball of the season. The best chance for Dallas is to unleash their No. 4 rated offense and hope to beat LA at their own game. The Mavs should try to play as up-and-down as possible, using the home crowd to fuel their transition game and hope that they can win the battle from behind the three-point line. If this becomes a game about getting defensive stops and winning battles for rebounds in the paint, they won't have much of a chance.