Setting the Table: Los Angeles Clippers (Game 36)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 9, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The road trip continues to get worse for the Dallas Mavericks (13-22) as they head to STAPLES Center to take on the red hot Los Angeles Clippers (27-8). The Mavericks are trying to get out of a funk that has caused them to lose nine out of their last 10 games. You have to go all the way back to Dec. 1999 and Jan. 2000 to find a time where the Mavericks had a stretch where they lost nine of 10 games.

The pace should be rather fast as both teams are proficient in scoring in transition. Not only are the Clippers and Mavericks two of the top scoring teams in the NBA but both like to score their points on the break. The Clippers and Mavericks represent two of the top five teams in the NBA in fast break points. The Clippers rank fourth in the league with 17.62 fast-break points. The Mavericks rank fifth in the league with 16.68 fast-break points.

With the Clippers, it starts with trying to cut the head off the snake and that’s trying to contain Chris Paul. That won’t be an easy challenge for the Mavericks as Paul usually has his way with Dallas. Paul has played in 24 games against Dallas averaging 21.5 points, 8.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 36.2 minutes per game. His 21.5 points per game average against Dallas is the second highest against any opponent. Over his career against the Golden State Warriors, Paul has averaged 23.6 points per game.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Clippers.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks have won 17 of the last 21 regular-season meetings with the Clippers, but Los Angeles has taken three of the last four (including the most recent two). The Clippers took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 112-90, at Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2012. The Clippers have now won two straight against the Mavericks at the STAPLES Center. The Mavericks have still taken nine of the last 13 meetings in Los Angeles, despite losing the most recent two. The Clippers snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a win at Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 2012. Chauncey Billups hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.0 second remaining to give the Clippers a 91-89 victory on Jan. 18, 2012. It was their first win over the Mavericks since Nov. 9, 2008, defeated Dallas 103-92. Dirk Nowitzki averaged a team-high 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 33.7 minutes in three starts against the Clippers in 2011-12. Nowitzki, right knee surgery, did not play in the first meeting with the Clippers this season on Dec. 5, 2012.

It’s a Small World:

Mavericks center Chris Kaman was drafted by Los Angeles with the sixth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft and played his first eight seasons with the Clippers from 2003-11. Kaman was traded from the Clippers to New Orleans along with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 first-round draft pick in exchange for Chris Paul and two 2015 second-round draft picks. Kaman (Grand Rapids) and Clippers guard Willie Green (Detroit) both hail from Michigan.

Mavericks forward Elton Brand played seven seasons with the Clippers from 2001-08. Brand (Cortland) and Clippers forward Lamar Odom (Queens) were both born in New York and played on the same AAU team as teenagers. Brand and Odom were also teammates on the Clippers from 2001-03. Odom appeared in 50 games (4 starts) for the Mavericks in 2011-12 and averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds. Clippers forward Caron Butler played a season-and-a-half for the Mavericks from 2010-11 and averaged 15.1 points in 56 games (56 starts) with Dallas. Butler was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team.

Mavericks point guard Darren Collison was the back-up point guard behind Chris Paul in New Orleans his rookie year (2009-10). When Paul was injured, Collison stepped in and averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists, most among rookies in starts, and 3.5 rebounds in 40.3 minutes. Collison grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and played four seasons at UCLA (2005-09). Collison finished his career 16th in UCLA history in points scored (1,639), second in steals (231) and tied for first in games played (142). Collison was a college teammate of Clippers center Ryan Hollins at UCLA during the 2005-06 season. Hollins was traded to Dallas for DeSagana Diop in 2008-09 and appeared in 27 games for the Mavericks that year.

Clippers guard Chauncey Billups and Mavericks guard Dahntay Jones made up the Nuggets’ starting backcourt when Denver reached the Western Conference Finals in 2008-09. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle coached Billups for one season when they were both with the Detroit Pistons in 2002-03. Clippers forward Grant Hill was born in Dallas and his father, Calvin Hill, was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. Mavericks assistant coach Tony Brown came to Dallas after serving as an assistant coach with the Clippers in 2010-11. Clippers assistant coach Robert Pack played four seasons with Dallas from 1996-2000. Clippers player development coach Howard Eisley also played for the Mavericks during the 2000-01 season.

Three Keys:

1. Win the battle of the benches. Averaging 41.1 points per game, the Clippers’ bench remains one of the top units in the league. Their reserves have out-scored their opponents off the bench 26 times this season compiling a record of 20-6 in those games. They have a season-high of 64 points, against Denver on Dec. 25, 2012. The Mavericks are averaging 40.3 bench points per game this season, which is tied for third in the NBA. Dallas has scored at least 50 points off the bench five times this season. The Mavericks ranked third in the NBA in bench scoring in 2011-12 (41.0 points per game) and led the league in bench scoring in 2010-11 (40.4 points per game).

2. Contain Blake Griffin, especially in the first quarter. In the Clippers’ victory over the Warriors on Jan. 5, Blake Griffin scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was Griffin’s highest scoring first quarter of the season, conitnuing a trend. Each of the last nine times Griffin has scored 14-or-more points in a quarter, it has happened in the first.

3. Don’t let it turn into a dunk contest. The previous game against the Clippers in Los Angeles got away from the Mavericks and the game turned into a demoralizing dunk contest for the Clippers. Dallas simply has to do a better job of not allowing they sky-walking bigs to take flight. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are both ranked among the top five in the NBA in dunks. Griffin ranks third in the league with 86 dunks. Jordan ranks fifth in the league with 75 dunks.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.