The Dallas Mavericks (15-14) and Los Angeles Clippers (17-13) have both played better basketball than how they are playing now. Dallas has lost three in a row while Los Angeles has lost six of their last seven.
The Mavericks won the first battle between these two teams, 114-110. Harrison Barnes paved the way with 30 points (albeit on 28 shots) and nine rebounds as Luka Doncic missed the game, but it was Dennis Smith Jr.’s game saving block on Tobias Harris in the final seconds that sealed the win.
Both teams are looking to get off the schneid, so here’s what to watch for.
DeAndre Jordan’s homecoming
After 10 seasons with the Clippers, Jordan will play the only other team he’s known as a visitor for the first time in his career. It’ll probably be a strange sensation for Jordan as he was the last man standing of Lob City. As for the actual basketball game, it’s no secret an engaged, motivated Jordan is such a weapon for the Mavericks. In the first matchup with his former team, Jordan contributed 16 points and pulled down a ridiculous 23 rebounds. It’s important Jordan is active and aggressive because the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell is relentless and constantly chips in cheap, junky points. Speaking of Los Angeles’ reserve big brings me to my next point...
Battle of the benches
When the Clippers and Mavericks play, two of the NBA’s best benches face off. J.J. Barea is the engine that runs the Dallas bench. Add Devin Harris and Dwight Powell (and Dirk Nowitzki) and you’ve got the ingredients for a successful, experienced second unit. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Clippers boast a high-octane reserve group led by perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Lou Williams. Averaging 17 points per game, Williams is a flamethrower on his own, but the Mavericks also have to account for Harrell who blasted Dallas for 23 points and 10 rebounds earlier this season.
This is a supreme matchup for basketball purists as there should be no drop off in play between the first and second strings, but ultimately this could be a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.
The Clippers’ first taste of Doncic
As previously mentioned, the Slovenian sensation sat out the first game between these two clubs. The Mavericks won the game, but it’s becoming vividly clear this team is better when Doncic has the ball in his hands. Since Doncic returned from his one game absence he’s taken his game to another level. In those eight games, the rookie has scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished almost seven assists per game. He’s seen his accuracy shooting the ball dip significantly, but Doncic is making up for it by shooting eight free throw attempts per night. Tuesday’s game against Denver was probably the first time this season Doncic’s passing acumen was on full display, but if Smith sits again (wrist injury) Doncic should get another crack at being the lead initiator.
How to watch
The game tips off at 9:30 CT and can be watched on TNT.