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Mavericks vs. Clippers Preview: 5 things to watch as Dallas hosts Los Angeles

The rare 1:30pm tip-off

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Mavericks (25-22) will now host the Los Angeles Clippers (24-24) at 1:30 p.m. CST. Early afternoon games tend to get weird. So why not have two of the oddest teams in the NBA play this time slot? The Mavericks have been extremely unlucky this season with injuries; one player returns, and another player gets hurt. Dallas will be without Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood. McKinley Wright IV is listed as questionable for the game. The Clippers will be without Luke Kennard and John Wall.

Here are five things to watch during this Sunday matinee matchup.

Build momentum

After a god-awful Western Conference road trip going 1-5 during that stretch, the Mavericks rebounded and got a nice win Friday night against the Miami Heat 115-90. The Clippers are a .500 team this season. This is the type of game the Mavericks should handle, especially at home, where Dallas has thrived this season at the AAC with a record of 17-7. The last time Dallas beat two teams in a row above .500 was in early December when the Mavericks beat the Suns and Nuggets back to back. The problem arises when both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George suit up, which they are.

Learning from your mistakes

The Mavericks got torched by Kawhi Leonard when the coaching staff chose to double-team Kawhi throughout the game on Jan. 10, where the Clippers won 113-101. However, with most of the Maverick's key defenders available for this matchup, this strategy may have a different outcome on Sunday.

Luka dominates the Clippers

Throughout his career, Luka Doncic has averaged 32.5 points per game against the Clippers. I'm sure at this point poor Ivica Zubac has nightmares of Doncic getting switched against him on the defensive end. The only team Luka has a better scoring average against would be the Detroit Pistons, where Doncic averages 32.8 points per game.

The Clippers duo returns to Dallas

As reported by Tim McMahon late Saturday afternoon, the Clippers will have Paul George available Sunday afternoon against the Mavericks. George and Leonard have only played a combined 17 games together this season.

The Claw returning to form

Kawhi Leonard may never return to his Super Saiyan form a few years back, but he's having an excellent month. Kawhi is averaging 26.4 points and shooting 46.7% from three since the calendar flipped to 2023. Leonard is coming off a season-high in scoring with 36 in a win Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs. The last time Kawhi scored 36-plus was against the Mavericks in 2021, when he dropped 45 massive points during the Clippers playoff series win over the Mavericks.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on Bally Sports at 1:30 p.m. CST.