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What to watch for as Mavs get first look at the Clippers in The Bubble

Photo: Nick White/Dallas Sports Fanatic

What to watch for as Mavs get first look at the Clippers in The Bubble

The Mavericks were temporarily able to quiet the critics with a hard-fought overtime victory against the Kings on Tuesday that required them facing the clutch-time demons that have so greatly plagued them not only this past week, but all season long. Thursday night will bring them the opportunity to stare down who is the betting favorite to be their first round opponent in the NBA playoffs later this month: the Los Angeles Clippers.

Each team in The Bubble

Mavericks Clippers
G1 7/31: 153-149 L vs Rockets 7/30: 103-101 L @ Lakers
G2 8/2: 117-115 L @ Suns 8/1: 126-103 W vs Pelicans
G3 8/4: 114-110 W (OT) @ Kings 8/4: 117-115 L vs Suns

Both teams will come in 1-2 and have suffered a close losses to their primary rivals (DAL/HOU and LAC/LAL) and then a two point loss to the Suns.

Injury Report
The Clippers have been without the services of Lou Williams for two games, he returned for 7 points in 21 minutes against the Suns on Tuesday, and Montrezl Harrell for all three games and for the foreseeable future as he tends to the death of his grandmother outside The Bubble. Guard Patrick Beverley will also be out on Thursday as he is dealing with a left calf strain. Clipper stars Paul George and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard have been ready to go in Orlando and have not been subject to any minutes-restrictions or cautionary missed games like they were throughout the first part of the league’s season.

Mavs guard Seth Curry missed Tuesday’s game with some leg soreness, but Rick Carlisle stated after the game that “hopefully he’ll be okay for Thursday.” He also noted the team would not be taking any risks medically, so don’t expect Curry to suit up for this regular season game if there is any lingering soreness on Thursday. Brad Townsend noted late Wednesday afternoon that Curry was still listed as “doubtful” for Thursday.

Head-to-Head Matchups in 2019-2020

November 26. 2019: LAC 114 – DAL 99
January 21, 2020: LAC 110 – 107

These two teams only played twice in Dallas this season. Admittedly, only the first game back in November where the Clippers won by 15 really stands out. That was one of the most deflating losses of the season for the Mavericks because they didn’t even look like they belonged on the same court as the Clippers for most of the game. The Mavericks dynamic duo of Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic combined for just 4/27 shooting as the defense of the Clippers made them look completely pedestrian all night. Both players’ point totals of 22 for Doncic and 15 for Porzingis were boosted by the amount of free throws they attempted in the game as Luka made 14/16 and KP went 4/8. That game certainly created the narrative we’ve all been following all season that Dallas can’t compete with the Clippers.

The second game in January is honestly pretty forgettable despite it being a close finish. The Mavericks had two chances to tie the game at 108 towards the end of regulation, but Tim Hardaway Jr. missed an open three and Luka Doncic missed free throws after Montrezl Harrell missed free throws kept the door ajar for Dallas. It is worth noting Paul George missed this game for Los Angeles.

While it seems very likely right now that these two teams will meet in the 2/7 first round matchup in the Western Conference playoffs, there is still some potential movement that could happen for both teams in the standings.

As of Wednesday evening, the Nuggets’ win over the Spurs put Denver at 45-23 and just half a game back of the Clips for the second seed. If the Mavericks were to beat the shorthanded Clippers on Thursday, Denver and Los Angeles would be tied for the second seed. If those two teams were to remain tied at the end of the eight regular season games, the nod for the higher seed would be based on winning percentage since the two teams will not finish with the same amount of games played. Denver entered The Bubble playing 65 games and the Clippers 64.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over the Lakers on Wednesday, it made it even more unlikely that Dallas would be able to pass anyone above them in the standings. The Mavericks are 2.5 games behind both the Rockets and Thunder and 3 games behind the Utah Jazz. Dallas has a game with Utah on Monday, but due to the Mavs’ high amount of games played heading into The Bubble, they’ll be behind the eight ball when it comes to win percentage tie-breaks.

Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 PM on Thursday night for what is the juiciest game of the restart so far for the Mavericks.

Editor-in-Chief for Dallas Fanatic| Born and raised in Dallas, I received my Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Texas in 2014 after majoring in Radio/TV/Film. I'm a lover of all sports and support every DFW team. For random sports and other thoughts, find me on Twitter: @DylanDuell

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