Clippers Game Preview: LA looks to bounce back against 1-7 Mavs

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Blake Griffin
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Blake Griffin /

After a disappointing loss to the Detroit Pistons and a beatdown by the Golden State Warriors, the LA Clippers look to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks.

Projected starting lineups

LAC: Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

DAL: Dennis Smith Jr. (questionable), Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel

Injury Report

LAC: Milos Teodosic (out indefinitely with left plantar fascia injury)

DAL: Dennis Smith Jr. (questionable with left knee effusion), Seth Curry (out with stress reaction in left tibia), Dorian Finney-Smith (out with left knee soreness), Josh McRoberts (out with lower extremity injury)

Keys to the Game

Blake Griffin vs Dirk Nowitzki:

Dirk Nowitzki is an all-time great power forward, but his time as an effective defender ended a few seasons ago. Nowitzki is still a great shooter and can stretch the floor on offense, but his slower feet and decreased athleticism make him a liability on the defensive end, especially against a player like Blake Griffin. Griffin has faired well against Nowitzki and the Mavericks in his career, averaging 20 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists on 49.5 percent shooting in the 21 games he’s played against Dallas. An aging Dirk should have a ton of difficulty guarding Griffin, who has taken his game to another level this season and added a reliable three-ball to his game. Griffin should be able to dominate on offense against Nowitzki and his performance should hopefully set the tone for his teammates and lead the Clippers to a win.

Bouncing back in dominant fashion:

More from Clipperholics

After dropping a tough loss to the Detroit Pistons and then being blown out by the Golden State Warriors in consecutive games, the Clippers have been gifted the perfect bounce-back game against Dallas. The Mavericks are just 1-7 in the early season and haven’t looked good on either end of the court so far. Dallas is averaging just 98.2 points per game, 26th in the league while giving up an average of 107 points per game on defense, 19th in the league. When the Warriors put the beat down on the Clippers, LA’s defensive numbers went from the best in the league to just ninth best, all in one game. This game against the Mavericks gives the Clips a chance to get back on track and regroup to avoid an early and ugly three-game losing streak.

Patrick Beverley welcomes another rookie to the NBA:

We all remember Patrick Beverley holding Lonzo Ball in check during the hyped-up Lakers guard’s NBA debut and now, its Dennis Smith Jr.’s turn. The Dallas rookie has looked fantastic to start the season, averaging 11.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds but the point guard’s success hasn’t translated to team success. Smith Jr. hasn’t shot very well so far, just 39.7 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from three, and has also averaged 3.2 turnovers per game, which won’t make his life any easier against Beverley. Mr. 94-feet is averaging 2.17 steals per game and has put in impressive defensive performances against each point guard he’s faced this season (except Steph Curry who torched him pretty badly). The Clippers as a whole match up very well defensively against the Mavericks, but the match-up between Smith Jr. and Beverley should be fun to watch.