The LA Clippers (9-7) return to the friendly confines of Staples Center against the Dallas Mavericks (9-6) after a lackluster two-game road skid that saw them lose in blowout fashion against the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 12:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Eric Bledsoe – Paul George – Nicolas Batum – Ivica Zubac
Mavericks: Jalen Bruson – Tim Hardaway Jr. – Dorian Finney-Smith – Kristaps Porzingis – Dwight Powell
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard out (knee), Marcus Morris Sr. out (knee), Jason Preston out (foot), Keon Johnson out (ankle)
Mavericks: Luka Doncic doubtful (ankle), Maxi Kleber out (left oblique strain)
The Big Picture
The loss to the Bulls on Nov. 14 notwithstanding, the Clippers had seemingly started to turn some things around a build a little momentum. Then the recent two-game road trip hit. To be fair, the Clippers have been a little banged up and short-handed lately and it was a back-to-back. They competed for the most part against a good Memphis Grizzlies team but the loss by 13 to one of the worst teams in the NBA in the New Orleans Pelicans was something else.
The Pelicans game was almost like a reversal of how the Clippers usually start games. They actually came out aggressive and focused early but faded in the second half. The Mavericks are a much different team than the Pelicans with more weapons on the court. Fortunately for the Clippers, they should be getting Serge Ibaka back this weekend who has been playing himself back to form with Agua Caliente in the G League.
The Mavericks come in to Staples Center with a similar record as the Clippers. They have been a little bit banged up as well. Luka Doncic, forever a thorn in the Clipper side, is nursing an ankle injury and did not suit up in their Friday night loss against the Phoenix Suns. He’s considered doubtful and it would be a huge break for the Clippers if he isn’t able to play.
Even so, they have Kristaps Porzingis whom they will have to contend with. He’s been on a bit of a tear recently since returning from a back injury. He’s put up 20+ points per game in the last seven games and has been a solid presence on the defensive end as well. The kind of player he is, he seems like a good matchup for Nic Batum on the defensive end. Batum’s length and IQ defensively will be crucial.
Brandon Boston Jr.’s emerging play. The Clippers are in need of some depth while they are short-handed and banged up and perhaps Boston can give them that. He didn’t make much of an impact on the road trip, but in the win against the San Antonio Spurs, he put up 13 points 4-7 shooting, 2-4 from three-point range. At times in the preseason and in the G League, he’s shown flashes of why his game might translate better to the pro level than it did in college.
Finishing games has been an issue on this road trip. The Clippers have developed this identity of a team that comes back from big deficits only this team it was the other way around. They competed against Memphis and actually had a double-digit lead over the Pelicans, but ran out of gas down the stretch. Maybe it’s the fatigue from being low on bodies but whatever it was, they need to do a better job in keeping the same energy and intensity throughout the full 48 minutes.