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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks clash with the Clippers

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Dallas heads to Los Angeles to take on the new look Clippers.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Football season is officially in the rearview mirror, and it’s time for the NBA to take center stage. What better way to kick that off than with a matchup between the lowly Mavericks and a transitioning Clippers team!

After a major roster shakeup, the Los Angeles Clippers are 1-1 since trading Blake Griffin. They’ve lost to the Portland Trail Blazers and beaten the Chicago Bulls. The Clippers are likely to take a step back, but the jury is out on how big of a step that will be. And as of this writing, DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams’ names have been linked to trade rumors, so who knows what players the Mavericks will face by tipoff.

The Mavericks are coming off a road win against the Sacramento Kings that further cemented how important J.J. Barea is to this team (more on that in a bit). They are looking to make it two road wins in a row, a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since its late December streak. A win tonight would also give the Mavs the victory in the season series against the Clips.

Can the Mavs control the three-point line?

The Mavericks are not in Houston Rockets territory when it comes to chucking three pointers, but they do shoot the fourth most threes per game with 32 attempts per night. It’s clear that the Mavs rely on the money ball (heh), and the two previous games against the Clippers are evidence. In the first matchup, Dallas shot only 33 percent from deep while Los Angeles shot 46 percent. The Clippers won 119-98. In the second matchup, Dallas shot 46 percent from three while Los Angeles shot 27 percent. The Mavericks won 108-82. Independent of shots beyond the arc, it’s imperative the Mavs take advantage of opportunities on the offensive end and defend the three-point line of the defensive end.

Is J.J. the Mavericks’... best player?

In the three games prior to the Sacramento game, the Mavericks were in an even bigger funk than they’ve been this entire season. They were shooting 38 percent from the field and had failed to score more than 90 points in that stretch. It’s probably not a coincidence Barea didn’t play in any of those games. Saturday night against the Kings, Barea returned to the lineup and the Mavs upped their shooting percentage to 49 percent and scored 106 points. As much as we love Dennis Smith Jr., Barea makes such a difference when he’s on the court. Watch to see if he can have the same kind of effect against a much better Clippers team as he did against the Kings.

Tobias Harris seems to fit right in

Arguably the second best player in the Clippers and Pistons swap, Harris played well in his debut as a Clipper. He scored 24 points, grabbed four rebounds and shot 50 percent from deep. He struggled in his lone matchup against Dallas as a Piston, but the Mavs will have their hands full keeping Jordan off the glass and limiting Danilo Gallinari. Harris could be the difference maker.

How to watch

It’s another late night tip starting at 9:30 CST. The game can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.