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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks battle the Clippers

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Have some brunch (is that still popular?), turn on the game and enjoy some Saturday afternoon basketball.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Day game alert!

The Dallas Mavericks (5-17) face the Los Angeles Clippers (8-12) this afternoon for the second time this season. The Clippers won the first matchup decisively in a 119-98 beat down back in early November.

Dennis Smith Jr. paced the Mavericks with 18 points but also committed a dreadful six turnovers, while Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Dallas shot a putrid 39 percent from the field and was out-muscled on the boards and in the paint providing little resistance to the Clippers.

However, the Clippers’ bad injury luck has resurfaced for another season, and the Mavericks will avoid Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari and Griffin who are all out with injuries this time around.

The Clippers and Mavericks are both 3-7 in their last 10 games, and afternoon games are always a wildcard on what type of performance to expect, but here’s what to watch for as both teams look to get one the win column.

Take advantage of turnovers

In their last five games, the Clippers committed 18.6 turnovers per game (second most in the NBA) with a turnover percentage of 18.9 percent (highest in the NBA). Consequently, Clippers’ opponents are scoring 20 points per night off of turnovers in that same timeframe, third most in the NBA. In summary, the Clippers are being sloppy with the ball and teams are taking advantage on the other end.

This doesn’t necessarily play into the Mavericks’ strengths as they don’t force many turnovers and therefore don’t score a large percentage of their points off of turnovers. But if the Clippers are in the giving mood this holiday season, the Mavericks need to capitalize on extra possessions. If day games in the NBA are similar to Thursday night games in the NFL, expect some sloppy, uncharacteristic play from one, if not both teams, which could be huge for the Mavericks.

Containing the Clippers’ guards

Even with the slew of injuries, the Clippers still have enough firepower to cause problems for the Mavericks with Lou Williams and Austin Rivers. At 18.7 points per game, Williams is the highest scoring Clipper not named Blake and can erupt for 30-plus at a moment’s notice. Never afraid to shoot, Rivers pumped in 25 points in the first game sans Griffin and figures to keep chucking as long as Griffin’s vacant shot attempts are still available. The Mavericks’ stable of guards will have their work cut out for them, but slowing down the trigger-happy backcourt will be a deciding factor in this game.

Keeping “he of whom we do not speak” off the glass

By his standards, DeAndre Jordan had a relatively pedestrian game last time out against Dallas with only 13 points and nine rebounds. The Clippers were still able to grab 14 more rebounds than the Mavericks and score 48 points in the paint because Jordan’s presence alone commands so much attention. The Clippers as a group have struggled to grab rebounds as of late, but not Jordan. He’s snatched 16 boards in three of the last four games and could prosper against a Mavericks front court that failed to grab crucial rebounds in the final seconds in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Jordan is a terror, and he becomes that much scarier against the Mavericks’ rail-thin big men.

How to watch

The game tips off at 1:00 p.m. Central and can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.