Los Angeles Clippers (51-28) vs Dallas Mavericks (41-38)
12:30 p.m. PST
April 10, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
1. Jamal Crawford. I can’t even…
Aaron Williams (@aaronsmarter): …make up my mind if I love him or hate him. The guy shoots the Clips out of tight games that they absolutely need to win, hits game winners in overtime of schedule losses in April, and generally just does the opposite of whatever I expect him to do. Brandon was right; he’d have fit right in on those teams of old (maybe 95-96… You know what I mean). Let’s hope he can finally conjure up the same late clock magic in May.
Ben Mesirow (@SemNeb): I know, right?! He isn’t the best Clipper. He will often be the most frustrating Clipper. But he’s definitely the most fun Clipper. Just when you get a little sick of watching opposing players scoot around him for offensive rebounds, or right after you yelp at the TV screen when someone blows by for a layup, he gets the ball in his hands. He goes casually back and forth behind his back, bouncing gently as he dribbles, using his willowy arms to exaggerate every move, and then he will abruptly do something spectacular – maybe it’ll be a whiplash crossover into a scooping and-1 layup, or maybe it’ll be a distinctly unorthodox leaning-in floater, or, best of all, he’ll chuck up a high-arcing moonball that turns the net all the way inside the f out as it drops straight down and through, ending a game the Clippers had no right to even think about stealing.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan): Seriously. Ben described it perfectly there. I will always love Jamal. I accept his faults. I know what he can do and honestly there is no one else in the NBA that has done it so consistently (albeit sometimes inconsistently) and over as long a time as Jamal. Hit that man up with another Sixth Man of the Year trophy. This guy is all-time.
2. How have the Mavericks even found themselves here, that is currently as the 7th seed in the West?
Williams: Dirk gosh darn Nowitzki. I mean… It’s kinda weird to think that this is the end of the road for Bean and Pierce when the Big German is doing what he’s doing at his age. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Also, JJ Barea is doing some sort of voodoo off the bench, and Deron Williams is proving to be a more complementary version of Monta Ellis from last year, which is exactly what the Mavs needed. To be honest, I think that after the off season they had, there may also be an element of pure spite.
Mesirow: When a team has a great coach and a great player, things tend to work out pretty well. Dirk Nowitzki is still a great player, and there are very few coaches better than Rick Carlisle. From a pure talent standpoint they can’t match up with the top half of the West, but between yet another outstanding Nowitzki season and the way Carlisle consistently puts his guys in the perfect spots, the Mavs have been a very pleasant surprise.
Whalan: I hear you guys giving daps to the Big Nowitzki but I wanted to give a little shout out to a couple of lesser knowns on this bizarro roster. Salah Mejri is averaging about 6 points and 6 rebounds off the bench in the past few weeks and Justin Anderson (a real, not generically created 2K player), has started the past seven games, of which the Mavericks have won all seven, in which time Anderson has averaged 9 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. He’s a shooting guard, by the way.
3. Over/ Under: 2.5 Clippers starters sit this one out?
Williams: Let’s see: Rivers and Pierce both have ankle issues that need resting, Crawford more than likely needs a game off after playing the whole 48 (a new basketball themed reality show can have this name – cut the check, though), but Blake will need reps with the starters, so… Push? The Clippers will rest exactly 2.5 players. Austin and Paul each count for .75 apiece.
Mesirow: Under – since everyone sat in Utah on Friday I bet they’ll play at least three of the regular starters. Blake needs minutes, and he needs to rediscover his chemistry with Chris, so I expect the two of them to start and play a healthy amount together. And at that point you may as well toss DJ and JJ in, and it doesn’t seem like Mbah a Moute needs much in the way of rest, since his offensive load is lighter and he often plays fewer minutes than other starters even in full-strength games.
Whalan: Under. Blake will have to play to get some rhythm. Meanwhile, the Clippers’ starting back-court from Friday night played 100 minutes between them. Moreover, that starting back-court is collectively 74-years-old. I expect CP3 & J.J. to suit up for this one, however nominally that maybe.