What have the Clippers done lately?
The Clippers just obliterated the Thunder, who have been incredibly hot in their last handful of games with Russell Westbrook leading the team averaging a triple double. The Clippers have been underrated for a lot of the season, largely because Chris Paul's incredible season has been overshadowed by the greatness of Stephen Curry and James Harden, and frankly, because the same team year after year has gotten a mite boring.
Nonetheless, the Clippers have had the league's best offense for a large chunk of the season, including everything since Blake Griffin's injury. And in fact, surrounding DeAndre Jordan with three very good 3-point shooters and Chris Paul has led to the Clippers absolutely obliterating opponents, especially behind DeAndre's routine 20 point, 20 rebound games.
Which stat might determine the game?
The Mavericks have lost to the Clippers by an average of 16.8 points per 100 possessions this season, a number that's so drastic that even accounting for the Clippers' natural advantage and the small sample size of two games likely represents a serious matchup disadvantage for Dallas. Given that Dallas' total margin of victory per 100 possessions over the last 8 games is almost -10, second worst to only the Knicks, this is probably a bad time to run into that buzz saw.
What are the Clippers' greatest strengths?
Flopping Rebounding. I included this tidbit in my latest Statsketball describing the Mavs' playoff odds:
Dallas has a defensive rating of 122 against the Clippers, and a defensive rebounding percentage of only ~71 percent. That means, the Clippers are getting almost 30% of the Mavs' boards as offensive rebounds.
That's just not a good look for the Mavs, who have not been able to do anything to stop DeAndre Jordan. If Tyson comes into the game fully healthy that should help, but if he's still struggling to move the Mavs will really, really struggle to keep this 20 rebound monster from eating boards.
What do the Mavs have to do to be successful against Clippers?
Well, first, they have to not play like the second worst team in the league and play a little more like -- at least -- they did in January. That will require a healthy Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki, though, and a Monta Ellis who can somehow find his way through this clogged mess of a paint, and there's no way to know if they'll be getting any of those things.
But second, it comes down to stopping the Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan pick and roll. The Clippers feast on open three pointers gotten from forcing help on their deadly primary action, and the Mavs, in Rondo and Tyson, theoretically have the pieces to hold it pretty well in check. If Rondo isn't engaged and Tyson's still struggling, though, this could be a bloodbath.
7:30 p.m. CT on FSSW and NBAtv