Thursday evening the Mavericks (30-40) will host the Clippers (43-29) at American Airlines Center. The Mavs will attempt to shake off the whooping they took at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, while the Clippers are riding a three game win streak.
This is the Mavericks’ third match up against the Clippers, with each team winning one contest so far. Dallas plays the Clippers again in twelve days in Los Angeles.
Dallas won the last match up on December 23rd, 90-80. You remember that one right?
Ahhh that was a great win. Here are the three things to watch against Los Angeles.
Who will keep DeAndre Jordan off the boards?
It’s been discussed that Dirk Nowitzki is having his best rebounding year in years. But the Mavericks are still dead last in rebounding differential and just about every possible rebounding stat. If Rick Carlisle keeps going with the Dirk-at-center line up to start the game, the Mavericks better have a sound plan for keeping Jordan off the glass. In the December matchup, he had 17 total boards.
At bare minimum they have to keep him off the offensive glass; Jordan is 6th in league at 3.6 offensive rebounds a game.
Will Harrison Barnes bounce back offensively? Can he guard Blake Griffin?
Barnes struggled on Tuesday against his old team, scoring just five points on 2 of 10 shooting. Who the Clippers select to guard Barnes will be very interesting. Blake Griffin is a bit taller than Barnes and obviously one of the quickest power forwards in the league and he could cause Barnes trouble, since he’s often matched up against slower players. Luc Mbah a Moute is smaller and low key one of the better defenders in the league.
Defensively, this will be one of the biggest challenges Barnes has faced in weeks. With Dirk on DeAndre, that leaves Barnes on Griffin, who is a scoring machine. Barnes does seem to surprise opponents with his strength in the post, so hopefully Griffin elects to stay outside and shoot jumpers.
How many minutes will Nerlens Noel play?
Minutes have always been an issue for Noel, going back to his time with the Sixers. After 10 contests, he’s averaging just 22.5 minutes per game. Against the Clippers, Carlisle may not have a choice than to boost his minutes into the high 20s. There must be concerns about the hold of his knee, because he is too impactful to be playing less than half the game.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT. You can catch it on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.