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3 steps to beating the Los Angeles Clippers

After a close loss in San Antonio, the Mavs head back home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers have looked absolutely dominant this season. With one of the best offenses and one of the stingiest defenses (they’re ranked second in both categories) and far and away the best point differential in the league, LA is perhaps the toughest challenge the Mavericks will face during a very difficult month.

But Dallas comes into this game having very nearly beaten another strong Western Conference team, the closest thing the team has had to momentum since their two-game winning streak earlier this month. What do the Mavericks need to do to ride that momentum to win number three?

Stay out of the paint

The Clippers’ defense may be excellent, but it has its weak points. Just five teams allow a higher opponent three-point percentage than the Clippers, who give up, on average, 36.1 percent from deep.

The paint is another story, though. The Clippers allow an unremarkable 58.9 percent opponent shooting within five feet of the basket, but it’s nearly impossible for teams to even get a shot off that close to the basket. LA allows the second fewest attempts from close range. Per this week’s ESPN power rankings, the Clippers have given up just 91.4 points per 100 possessions when DeAndre Jordan is on the floor (and 106.1 without him).

So while they won’t give up three-pointers easily either, the perimeter may represent the best shot the Mavs have at exploiting anything close to a mismatch. Dallas hasn’t been a great three-point shooting team and will be missing some of their better shooters tonight, but they do take a lot of them. And against the Spurs, both Seth Curry and Wes Matthews showed signs of life from behind the arc. Matthews sank three of his seven attempts (42 percent), continuing a trend from the last few games that offers some hope that he may be climbing back to his previous levels after starting the season in a major slump.

Jonathan Gibson makes his three-pointers

Jonathan Gibson’s three-point percentages from his three games as a Maverick are as follows:

Game 1: 0 percent (0/3)

Game 2: 56 percent (5/9)

Game 3: 0 percent (0/2)

You could imagine this information fitting a number of patterns. Sure, the first and third games were against Memphis and San Antonio, good teams, and the second was against Orlando, a bad team. But you could also hope that perhaps he’s a consistently inconsistent shooter who’s due for a good game!

More realistically, though...

The Clippers use this game for rest

The Mavericks are not in a good place right now. Thankfully, this is in part because of injuries, so even if the playoffs are out of reach, the team will almost certainly be more fun to watch once J.J. Barea and Dirk and Deron Williams are all healthy and back in the lineup. Until then, the most realistic path to a win against a good team (and the one Dallas was almost able to take advantage of against the Spurs) is that these teams will use games against the Mavs as a chance to rest some of their starters.

How to watch

Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. Central and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest or on NBA League Pass.