Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both had double-doubles in a 112-90 victory last time the Clippers welcomed the Mavs to the Staples Center. The Clips try to improve to 2-0 against Dallas tonight at 7:30 PT on ESPN.
1. How can the Clippers contain O.J. Mayo and his 43 percent shooting from three?
Jordan Heimer: The Clippers don’t have a great defensive option available to chase speedy 2-guards through screens. The key to slowing down shooters is, counter-intuitively, solid Clipper offense. As we saw against Golden State, the Clippers do a better job finding shooters when they have time to get set, while the other team is taking the ball out of the basket.
Andrew Han: Familiarity, familiarity, and familiarity. The Clippers very much remember Mr. Mayo from last season’s playoff series. His team may have changed, but they still remember he’s a key cog. If I’m not mistaken, in the first meeting this season, “Stop OJ Mayo” was on the prep board pregame and Mayo suffered his worst game of the season to that point, going 0-4 from deep.
Jovan Buha: There’s no right answer here: I was at the game last time, and I vividly remember Mayo having an off-night for no particular reason. The Clippers’ ball pressure frustrated him and caused four turnovers, but he got some open looks that just didn’t go down. L.A. doesn’t necessarily possess a stopper at the 2 (unless someone plays out of position), so I think if Willie Green is struggling, Matt Barnes or Eric Bledsoe will get the call, and they’ll do fine.
2. The Clips seemed to be rolling against the Lakers and Warriors over the weekend. Did this four-day layoff come at the right or wrong time?
Heimer: Perfect time for a break. As well as the Clips have played, mid-season finds them harried by the usual assortment of bruises and tweaks. With a long stretch of road games looming, this was the perfect time to coax Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups and others towards full health. Plus, according to stat-meister Andrew Han, the Clips schedule had not allowed the team a full practice since early December.
Han: I believe it was Dan Woike of the OC Register that said the Clippers haven’t held a full practice since Dec. 12 due to various injuries and scheduling. Now with Crawford momentarily sidelined, Bledsoe shaking off his hip injury, and Hill close to making his debut, any moment of respite is welcome.
Buha: Perfect time. The Clippers are banged up with a handful of guys nursing an assortment of injuries. With all of this rest this week (they don’t play again until Saturday vs. Orlando), guys can get healthy and those who were out (Hill and Billups) can get on the same page as everyone. Rest is always good, no matter the time of the season.
3. Chris Paul has shot the ball more than usual over the past two games. Does that keep up against the Mavs?
Heimer: No one understands the macro-rhythms of a basketball game better than Chris Paul. If he played with three or four elite scorers, I truly believe he might average 12 points a game. Conversely, as long as Jamal Crawford remains sidelined, Chris will focus on picking up that slack.
Han: Dallas isn’t quite the force they have been in previous years, but Dirk is entering the starting rotation tonight. And the bench safety valve, Crawford, is still nursing his foot sprain. I wouldn’t be shocked if Paul left the jumper cables on for one more game to ensure his and Blake’s seats are reserved on the bench in the fourth quarter.
Buha: Depends on Jamal Crawford. If he’s playing, I expect Paul to go back to his pick-your-poison mentality where he lets the defense dictate whether he’s shooting or passing (both great options). If Crawford’s out, then I expect a much more aggressive CP3, just like we saw against the Lakers and Warriors, when he arguably had his two best games of the season.
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