While Kaley Cuoco hosts the People’s Choice Awards in the Nokia Theatre, the Dallas Mavericks will be around the block in STAPLES Center prepping themselves for a clash with the NBA’s best Los Angeles Clippers.
That’s right, the Clippers.
It’s been a change of pace in the city of angels. While the Los Angeles Lakers are just 15-19 amidst struggles and injuries, the Clippers played a perfect 16-0 month of December. That stretch made for all but one win of their league/season-high 17-game streak of victories.
This will be the second meeting between the Mavs and Clippers, the first also in Los Angeles. Ironically that game was broadcasted on ESPN as will this one and the Clippers made easy work of Dallas 112-90.
A huge part of the Clippers success is attributed to their quality depth. They may get even deeper tonight as veteran forward Grant Hill practiced today and could make his Clippers debut. But it has been the strong play from reserves Jamal Crawford (16.5 pts) Matt Barnes (11 pts & 5 rpg) and Eric Bledsoe (19.79 PER) that have aided the starters in becoming the league’s best squad.
In a far darker place are the Mavericks. At 13-22, they watch their playoff hopes squander further and further away with each loss. This team hungers for victory. In a span of losing 12 of 14 games, the Mavs have found each and every way to NOT win a basketball game.
Though the two teams are separated by 14 games in the conference standings, Dallas has reason to believe they can contend in this one. Since Dirk Nowitzki returned, Dallas has played two title contenders in Oklahoma City and Miami very closely. In the end the Mavericks did drop both games, each an overtime defeat.
So if it’s tight down the stretch, the Mavs need to do something they’ve struggled with all season – close out in regulation.
Chris Paul has been an MVP candidate throughout the whole season. The Clippers chances at ultimate success start and finish with the former Demon Deacon.
“We’ve been pretty good at home,” Chris Paul said.
An understatement from CP3 as his squad has an impressive 17-3 record as the home team in STAPLES. Dallas comes into this one with a 5-15 road record which would favor the Clippers winning No. 18, but the Mavs won’t fold before they battle.
Defense has been a cause of concern all season for the Mavericks. Mavs’ top defender Shawn Marion has been openly, yet rightfully frustrated as a result.
“It seems like we can’t guard nobody. Until we’re able to contain guys and make them do something they’re uncomfortable doing, we’re going to have problems. When you can’t guard nobody, you can’t win.” – Shawn Marion
- 37 year-old Mike James will be in uniform tonight for Dallas. Mavs signed the veteran guard to a 10-day contract.
- Dallas is 2-7 in the first game of back-to-backs this season. Mavs face the Sacramento Kings tomorrow night.
- Mavs F/C Brandan Wright is probable to return tonight after missing the previous four games (quad strain).
Game action tips at 9:30 p.m. CT and airs on ESPN/PRIME. Let’s Go Mavs!
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