Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks
American Airlines Center
March 26, 2013
6:30 p.m. PST
The Mavericks have decided they won’t shave until they get back to .500. That’s a pretty cool team policy; problem is that it’s taken them a little longer to get back to .500 than they would have hoped. Tuesday, the Clippers head to Dallas to take on a team of Big Foots and Martin Van Burens. Now, onto 3-on-3:
1. If the Mavs don’t reach .500 this year, do they have to keep their beards in the offseason?
Ian Levy, The Two Man Game, (@HickoryHigh): Theoretically they’re back to .500 as soon as the season ends, but that doesn’t really represent the intent of this furry blood pact. I can’t think of a more appropriate penance for this season’s misfires than having to sport a Viking chin-do for three months of Dallas summer heat.
D.J. Foster, (@fosterdj): I made a beard joke. It went poorly. Carry on.
Jeremy Conlin, (@jeremy_conlin): God, I hope they do. Dirk’s beard is starting to look very Richard Kimble-y. All he needs is whatever the opposite of Just For Men is to give it some gray and I could totally see him screaming “I DIDN’T KILL MY WIFE” at Tommy Lee Jones before jumping off a dam.
2. Who is the most important Clipper in this game? (Chris Paul is questionable for tonight’s contest.)
Levy: Chris Paul/Eric Bledsoe. The Mavericks defense has struggled, particularly in corralling penetration. Darren Collison and Mike James are about as bad a defensive point guard combination as there is in the league, and no one on the back line is able to consistently protect the rim. Paul or Bledose should be able to live in the lane tonight, scoring and moving the defense for open shots.
Foster: Lamar Odom. The Dallas crowd surely isn’t going to welcome Odom back with open arms, so it will be interesting to see how he responds. Brandan Wright has been playing a ton lately, and he feels more like a matchup for Odom than Jordan – at least in Vinny Del Negro’s mind. If this game is tight, Odom will play a more important role than just a target for fan venom.
Conlin: To avoid redundancy, I’ll go with Jamal Crawford. The Mavericks have a decent bench (led by a rejuvenated Vince Carter and the still-underrated Brandan Wright), so Crawford will need to play well for the Clippers second unit to maintain the lead that the starters should jump out to.
3. The Mavericks shoot almost 38 percent from three as a team. How should they approach Tuesday’s game so that they can best take advantage of the Clippers’ struggling perimeter defense?
Levy: Get the ball to Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow. The Mavericks’ offense has moved in a pick-and-roll, read-and-react direction, especially with Mike James starting. However this seems like a scaffolded short cut, keeping things simple for both the offensive players and their defensive counterparts. Dirk handling the ball at the elbow still gives this offense its most complex and versatile format for attack.
Foster: Go small and watch the Clippers react. Teaming up Vince Carter, O.J. Mayo, and Dirk Nowitzki gives the Mavs three shooters who hit more than 40 percent of their shots from behind the arc. That’s a lot of firepower and the Mavs will need mobility over post defense in a fourth quarter against Blake Griffin anyhow.
Conlin: All of Dallas’ regular big men are comfortable stepping away from the basket and shooting jump shots. Although Dirk is the only one with three-point range, their overall floor spacing forces defense into unusual rotations that open up three-point looks. Their usual sets should suit them fine against the Clippers. It will be up to LA to stay disciplined.
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