What to watch for in the LA Clippers’ final preseason performance

LA ClippersLou WilliamsPatrick Beverley (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LA ClippersLou WilliamsPatrick Beverley (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers will finish up their preseason schedule Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks. Here are some things to keep an eye on.

The LA Clippers will play the fifth and final game of their preseason campaign tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks in Vancouver. And while the game is essentially meaningless, there are a few things worth paying attention to.

LA has gone 2-2 to this point, with its most recent win coming against Australian club Melbourne United. The game was not televised, but by all accounts, the Clippers looked extremely shaky. Melbourne had a four-point advantage at the half before LA eventually took over in the second, winning 118-100.

Montrezl Harrell was LA’s most important player, which has been a constant throughout LA’s preseason campaign. He went for 22 points, six rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes of action against United, bringing his preseason averages up to 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Harrell should again play an important role against Dallas, as he figures to see a fair amount of playing time in the Clippers’ preseason finale. In fact, most of the team’s main players are expected to be on the floor.

Kawhi will play

According to the LA Times’ Andrew Greif, all but Paul George and Rodney McGruder will see some action against Dallas. George is obviously still working his way back from shoulder surgery, and McGruder will remain out after suffering a minor injury in practice.

That means Kawhi Leonard will be back in action, who has been on the floor for roughly 11 minutes so far this preseason.

Leonard looked fantastic in his debut against the Denver Nuggets, his lone appearance so far, tallying seven points and six assists.

I would think Leonard would get more time against the Mavericks, but with the regular season beginning Tuesday, the Clippers may choose to limit his involvement tonight. With that, don’t be surprised if he only plays in the first half.

Other players worth watching include Landry Shamet, Terance Mann and Jerome Robinson.

Shamet has had a rough start to his preseason, shooting just 18.2 percent from three-point range. That’s a drastic change from the 45.0 percent he connected on last season with LA, and he should return to form sooner rather than later.

Mann didn’t play Sunday against Melbourne but has had a solid start to his NBA career. He’s proven that he belongs in the rotation, and there’s a chance that he could start in a few games later on this season. Thursday’s matchup will provide him with another opportunity to show what he can do against NBA-level talent before the regular season begins.

Robinson had his most impressive performance of the preseason against Melbourne, going for 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. He converted just 36.4 percent of his field goals overall but shot 40.0 percent from three-point range and threw down this monstrous slam dunk:

Robinson, like Mann, will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity to show what he’s capable of against an NBA team prior to the start of the season. A strong showing could force the coaching staff to consider giving him more time on the floor, but another disappointing performance could be troublesome.

First look at Luka and Porzingis

The LA Clippers aren’t the only team that will enter the regular season with a star duo. The Dallas Mavericks have one of their own, and LA will get its first look at them tonight.

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are about as dangerous a duo as one could dream up. Doncic was a star for the Mavericks in his rookie season, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old was named Rookie of the Year.

Porzingis, on the other hand, is one of the most unique players the game has ever seen. At seven feet three inches, he’s one of the tallest players currently in the league. But what separates him from most other giants is his three-point shot: Porzingis converted 39.5 percent of his looks from range with the New York Knicks in 2017-2018.

It’s hard to say just how good Doncic and Porzingis will be together, but they’ve got loads of potential together and could wind up turning Dallas into a perennial contender in a matter of years.

Reuniting with an old friend

Games between the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks will be special this season, for one, gigantic reason: Boban Marjanovic.

The towering big man was a fan favorite during his time with LA, and even after he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers with Tobias Harris last season, Clippers fans couldn’t help but cheer for him.

Marjanovic signed a two-year deal with the Mavericks over the summer and figures to be a staple of their rotation.

We may not be rooting for him tonight, but it’ll be hard not to get a kick out of watching him go to work under the basket.

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The LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks will take the floor tonight at 7:30 p.m. PDT at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Be sure to follow along with @ClipperholicsFS on Twitter for live updates as the Clippers look to wrap up their preseason slate with a win.