What have the Clippers done lately?
The Clippers have been on a bit of a losing streak lately, dropping consecutive games to Brooklyn, Cleveland, Toronto, and Oklahoma City and sliding a spot in the conference standings. They're now tied with San Antonio for sixth, a game and a half behind the Mavericks, who've moved up thanks to their amazing win over Portland last night.
This wouldn't ordinarily be too much cause for concern, but the team announced yesterday that leading scorer Blake Griffin would be out indefinitely after having surgery for a staph infection on his elbow. While this shouldn't impact Griffin's play in the long-term, a lot can happen in the four to six weeks he's anticipated to miss. The Clippers certainly looked like they missed Griffin quite a bit in their huge loss to the Thunder Sunday afternoon, giving up 131 points and 52 rebounds to OKC.
What are the match-ups to watch?
The last time the Mavs played the Clippers was a weekend afternoon game in LA. It did not end well. As teams often do during these early games, Dallas looked sluggish and lost by 20 points despite a 25-point showing from Dirk.
But with Spencer Hawes replacing Griffin at power forward, this could be a good opportunity for Dirk to continue shaking off his shooting troubles and keep up what he started in Portland Saturday night, where he powered the team to an overtime win with 25 points on 11-19 shooting. Fingers crossed for a vintage Dirk performance.
What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Clippers?
The Clippers are coming into Dallas to play their fourth game in five nights, part of an eight-game road trip that's taken them to the East Coast, Canada, and Texas (twice). Between their schedule and Griffin's absence, it's no wonder they've been in a bit of a slump.
Dallas will be missing a key player of their own with Rondo still out thanks to an orbital fracture, but this should be a good chance for the Mavs to get another win against a potential conference playoff opponent. Rondo being out leaves the Mavericks vulnerable to the Clippers' excellent three-point shooting, but this is an area in which Dallas should be able to hold its own on the other end of the court, especially playing more offense-oriented line-ups with Rondo out.
As mentioned earlier, Blake Griffin and Rajon Rondo are both out. J.J. Reddick is currently listed as questionable for tonight with back spasms.
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Central on NBA TV and FSSW.