Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Clippervision, Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Terance Mann – Kawhi Leonard – Nicolas Batum – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Mavericks: Spencer Dinwiddie – Tim Hardaway Jr. – Reggie Bullock – Christian Wood – Dwight Powell
Clippers: Paul George (right hamstring) out, Luke Kennard (right calf) out, Brandon Boston Jr. (G League Assignment), Jason Preston (G League Assignment), Moussa Diabate (G League Assignment)
Mavericks: Luka Doncic (left ankle) questionable, Dorian Finney-Smith (right adductor) out, Josh Green (right elbow) out, Maxi Kleber (right hamstring) out
The Big Picture
The Clippers come into Tuesday’s game reeling. They’re on a six-game losing streak and playing some of the worst basketball they’ve played in the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George era. Injuries aside, they’ve been plagued with inconsistency. In recent games against the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, the Clippers put together strong third quarters to claw their way back into the game only to completely fall apart in the fourth quarter. The offense stagnates, the defense isn’t up to speed, and this team is far from looking like the preseason championship contender they were pegged to be.
Despite that, the vibes around the team following the Hawks loss didn’t resemble one in which the sky is falling. Often times, a team takes on the personality of its leader, and postgame Kawhi Leonard was anything but panicked. Leonard remarked how this is just a challenge for the team and they’re going to see if the locker room is up to that challenge.
Nicolas Batum echoed Leonard’s sentiments in that they know they’re going to take the heat from outside sources but that things can turn around fairly quickly in the NBA as soon as the next game.
What does seem to be over, though, are Tyronn Lue’s experiments with smaller, three guard lineups. Against the Hawks, he went big with Terance Mann starting at point guard – and Reggie Jackson was absent from the rotation in the second half. While it’s a step in the right direction, it doesn’t solve all of the Clippers issues. Chemistry and cohesiveness during the regular season matters. And while injuries are largely out of the team’s control, it does make it tougher for the team to build up the chemistry they need, especially when it’s key guys that are missing.
The Mavericks come to town as an interesting team. They have one of the NBA’s superstars in Luka Doncic, but not much around him. Doncic has been setting the league on fire this season, and while part of this because he is that good, it’s also because he has to shoulder such a heavy load. He’s a one-man wrecking crew and has a knack for having big games against the Clippers in particular. The fact that the Mavericks are fourth in Western Conference with a record of 23-18 is a testament to Doncic’s greatness.
Thankfully for the Clippers, he is questionable to play. Even so, the Clippers cannot afford to take any team lightly. There are precious few home games between now and the beginning of February and the Clippers need to take advantage of the few they do get, or they might be in a very tough spot.