Clippers-Mavericks: L.A., DeAndre Jordan face lesser rivals


The Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as possibly the most disliked team around the NBA, and they have more than their fair share of rivals. With the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, the Clippers have always had closely fought matchups against two of the Western Conference’s top teams. Gritty, slow, defensive games against the Grizzlies, and physical, fast-paced, offensive shootouts against the Warriors. And after facing both of them already this season, while falling to Golden State and defeating Memphis, the Clippers are now moving onto their next rival in Dallas.

Wednesday night, the second Clippers-Mavericks matchup will be on the screens of basketball fans everywhere. L.A. already took them down with ease on October 29 with a 88-104 win at Staples Center, but playing this second contest in Dallas is the key.

The atmosphere will be entirely different.

When DeAndre Jordan sets foot on the court at American Airlines Center, he’ll be able to feel the hatred of the Mavs fans wafting through the air. He’ll feel the sense of betrayal and anger being cast out of Mark Cuban whenever he catches a glimpse of him.

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Ok, maybe that’s a bit over the top and a touch too dramatic, but the fact of the matter is the Mavericks and Cuban aren’t over what happened this summer. Jordan backed out of a verbal agreement to join them during free agency and instead had a drastic change of heart to return to the Clippers and signed a four-year $88 million deal. Which, for Cuban, was his absolute worst nightmare this year.

Apparently, he doesn’t “give a s***” about the Clippers, yet most recently he revealed that he’s saved all Jordan’s texts from this summer and may release them to the media.

That’s like saving the messages from an ex after a breakup incase you feel like showing them up on social media.

No one should be doing that except maybe some frustrated teenagers. Especially not the owner of a professional sports franchise.

Yes, it’s a shame, but just move on.

Oct 29, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) battle for a rebound in the second half of the game at Staples Center. Clippers won 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Next: Clippers X's and O's: Game 7 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The whole situation has added hostility to this potential rivalry, although matters on the court should be far more competitive before these teams are considered as true rivals. Pettiness from Cuban and trolling videos from the Mavericks’ home opener aside, this feels more like a bad breakup where the one who got dumped (Cuban) is trying to drag their friends (the rest of the team) into the situation.

If these off the court tensions could be left behind and all those involved could truly let bygones by bygones, the Clippers would be left with just two genuine rivals in the Warriors and Grizzlies.

There’s really no contest in a Clippers-Mavericks game right now. L.A. are superior in terms of their performance at both ends of the floor, depth, current play, and just all around talent. And that’s despite the fact they have to deal with an entirely new second unit.

So, what can we expect from Wednesday night’s game? A big night from Blake Griffin as he attacks Dallas’ weak interior defense, a strong defensive performance from Jordan like last time (15 rebounds, four blocks on Oct. 29), the Mavs struggling to reach 100 points even with Chandler Parsons partly back, and a chance for the Clippers’ new bench to (maybe) acclimatise a little further against a slightly easier opponent.

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The first two weeks of this season haven’t just been a story of change for the Clippers, though. At least part of the time, it’s been a story of rivals as well. The Grizzlies are always a gruelling matchup and the Warriors are as dominant as ever, yet the Clippers still only lost to the defending champions by four points after going down by 17 in the second quarter. Such performances, as well as their 5-2 record (one loss against Golden State, the other a four point loss to the Houston Rockets with no Chris Paul), show what this Clippers team is capable of.

They won’t be near top form yet and there’s certainly a lot to work on, but to challenge elite teams and their toughest rivals already speaks volumes of their talented core. Even with bench struggles, the head-scratching play and shot selection of Jamal Crawford, and various rotation issues that Doc Rivers needs to address, they still have more than the Mavs can handle.

With Cuban and the city of Dallas seemingly so intent on turning Clippers-Mavericks into something serious, this story of rivalries continues on Wednesday night.

Thankfully for Doc and the Clippers, though, they have a far better hand to beat the Mavericks’ off-court talk and inferior play on it.