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3 things to note as the Mavericks face the Clippers

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Healthy for the first time in a long time

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks are back in action for the first time since their victory over the Trail Blazers. Both teams will enter Tuesdays game on a bit of a winning streak; 3 in a row for the Clippers and 4 for the Mavericks. The streak for the Mavericks is a promising turn after they hit a bit of a rough patch while dealing with injuries to Tim Hardaway Jr, Porzingis, and Luka Doncic.

A win against the Clippers, currently second in the West, would do a lot to assure onlookers that the rough patch is behind us and serve as a strong statement win after Dallas suffered one of its worst losses of the season against LA back in November. As it stands, with wins over the Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets and Bucks, the Clippers are one of the few teams with a “championship contention” status that the Mavericks have yet to beat this season. So how is that going to happen?

Injuries

After a whiplash-inducing pre-game scratch against the Kings, Kristaps Porzingis is once again being teased to return after missing 10 games. Nothing is official quite yet, but with the news that he went through a full practice on Sunday and words like “hopeful” and “optimistic” being throw around with regards to his knees, things are looking positive.

On the other side, Paul George, who has missed 6 of the Clippers last 7 games, will travel with the team to Dallas with the hope he can play while they’re on this road trip. No word on if he’ll be available to go against the Mavericks, but it’s not out of the cards.

How do you solve a problem like Kawhi

PG13 or no PG13, the Mavs will likely be dealing with the inscrutable Kawhi Leonard. He’s played in 33 of the Clippers’ 43 games, and he’s playing as robotically ruthless as ever. It stands to reason that the lion’s share of the defensive responsibility for him will fall to Dorian Finney-Smith.

This is probably as close to a best-case scenario as you can get in terms of matchups — after all, DFS cut his teeth in the NBA by being as close to a defensive specialist as you can be in the NBA today and still make a roster. Kawhi is a tough draw for anyone, though, and Finney-Smith is still just one man. Perhaps Coach Carlisle will mix in more zone in hopes to contain the Clippers’ star, or maybe the move will be to just accept that Kawhi is going to get his, and try to make it as hard as possible for the rest of LA to contribute. And then there’s the possibility of Paul George... I see now why they’re second in the West.

Three days rest

If it feels like it’s been an eternity since you last watched the Mavs, you’re not wrong. For just the fourth time this season, Dallas enters this game coming off of three full days of rest. As mentioned earlier, the team has been dealing with a number of bumps and bruises in the past few weeks, so the extended stretch of gameless days, while boring for us (what are we supposed to watch?! NFL playoffs? This is a horrible nightmare) it no doubt came as a welcome reprieve for the players.

Oh, and those three games we’ve played on three days rest this season? Dallas has won all of them. Knock on wood!

How to Watch

Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass at 7:30 p.m. CT.