The Dallas Mavericks have absolutely owned the Clippers this year. In the three games, Dallas has beaten the Clipers by an averaged of 9.7 points, the Clippers 6th worst point differential against any team (only Indiana, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia and Portland have a larger point differential over the Clips) and based on the construction of the team, it’s no surprise.
Not only are the Mavericks a veteran team but they possess many of the elements necessary to slow down the Clippers. The right defenders for Blake? Yep, they have the long, athletic guys in Tyson Chandler (who, along with Pau Gasol, has defended Blake as well as anyone this year) and Brendan Haywood, as well as that undersized quick small forward that can bother Blake, in Shawn Marion.
The Mavs have a high scoring big man in Dirk, who can give any team trouble, but he also draws Blake, Kaman or DeAndre away from the basket where they are most effective at rebounding and, to some extent, defending.
They have a potent bench, both Jason Terry and J.J. Barea can give them an additional offensive punch and Brendan Haywood can, when properly motivated, defend as well.
But mostly, the Mavericks are a team more than a collection of players. The Clippers have had moments of real team play during the season, but the Mavericks do cohere almost every game. They have defined defensive responsibilities (lots of zone) and they know their role on offense as well. They have a plan.
Right now, due to injuries and inexperience (VDN especially included), the team doesn’t have that much of a plan from game to game. They are fortunate that the top dogs are clearly defined, Blake and Gordon are the stars, but after that the team floats in and out. Sometimes Mo is in scorer mode. Sometimes Randy Foye is the first point guard off the bench, sometimes Eric Bledsoe takes point responsibilities. Sometimes Aminu is charging around for offensive rebounds, sometimes he’s hanging out in the corners. Kaman and DeAndre have been somewhat consistent, but their play has only fueled more conversation as to whether the team needs to start or get rid of one or the other. Keeping DeAndre would probably mean that they would have one expensive backup and Sterling isn’t known for that type of waste.
To be successful in the future, the Clips will have to adopt some form of structure, even if its not like the Mavericks in execution but spirit, so that they can play up to their collective abilities.
Keys to the Game
– J.J. Barea and the Mavericks Bench. I couldn’t just put J.J. Barea there, no matter how true it is. In the last two games Barea has absolutely wrecked the Clippers going for 23.5 points on 75 percent shooting. Yes, that’s right. 75 percent shooting. The Clippers can’t let the crafty guard score so easily, he’s just not that good. No one is that good.
– Blake and Dirk. Two of the best power forwards in the game with completely different styles. Dirk likes his high screens, pull up jumpers from the elbow and the occasional three. Blake is a transition dunker, a low block bull and a great high post passer. Chandler will probably see more time on Blake, but Blake (25 points on 10 for 14 shooting, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals) looked like he has started to figure out Dirk and the Mavericks in the last game, rather than the other way around.
– Balance that offense, Mo. Whenever there’s a creaky, slow defender like Jason Kidd or Derek Fisher covering Mo, he loves to attack, sometimes at the expense of his distributor’s duties. However, Mo will have to be a bit more open to passing the ball, as the Mavericks switched Kidd off Mo after Mo’s hot start in the last game and really sucked the momentum from Mo’s game.
Ryan Gomes: right knee, questionable
Caron Butler: right knee, out
Tyson Chandler: sore lower back, questionable
Domique Jones: right foot, out