After a disastrous run of eight losses in their last nine games, the Dallas Mavericks (17-36) finally earned a much-needed 106-99 win over the Sacramento Kings. All five Mavs starters finished in double digits, with Harrison Barnes leading the way with 18 points. Meanwhile, big man Dwight Powell added 17 points and nine rebounds. J.J. Barea finally made his return to the Mavs' bench following a three-game absence. He struggled with his shot as he went just 2-of-12, but he did have a team-high 11 assists.
They take on the Los Angeles Clippers (26-25), who have now won three of their last four games following a 113-103 win over the Chicago Bulls last night. The new-look Clippers forward duo of Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris played spectacularly to carry the team offensively. Gallo had 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds in just 30 minutes of play, while Harris added 24 in his Clippers debut.
Three keys to the game
Home-court advantage - There’s been a pretty significant home-court advantage in the first two matchups between these two teams this season with the home team winning by over 20 points on both occasions. While the Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back, they likely won’t be quite as fatigued given that they didn’t need to travel. The fact that they’re at home should also help them carry over their fine form against the struggling Mavs.
Frontcourt battle - The Clippers have quite the frontcourt trio to throw at the Mavs with Gallo, Harris, and Jordan. The Mavs’ struggles against opposing centers this season has been well-documented, so Jordan has the potential to dominate the glass. Meanwhile, the possible absence of Barnes, who is suffering from a left ankle injury, would limit the Mavs’ already threadbare offensive options even more against a Clippers forward duo which has shown great potential.
Bench production - Lou Williams has been getting most of the credit for beefing up the Clippers' bench this season, and deservedly so. But don’t forget about Montrezl Harrell and Tyrone Wallace, who have also been surprisingly productive for the Clippers over the last few weeks. That trio will have an intriguing matchup against the Mavs’ backcourt-centric second unit which just got a key piece in Barea back.
Matchup to watch
J.J. Barea vs Lou Williams - Barea and Williams are two of the very best sixth men in the league at the moment, and it’ll be a treat to watch them work opposite one another. Williams has been in a pretty rough shooting slump of late - he’s shot just 10-of-42 over his last two games - but he still has the potential to go off at any moment. Meanwhile, Barea can also be an instrumental part of the Mavs team, as he showed when he had 21 points and ten assists in his most recent meeting against the Clips.
Mavs projected starting lineup
PG - Dennis Smith Jr. | SG - Wes Matthews | SF - Harrison Barnes | PF - Dwight Powell | C - Dirk Nowitzki
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG - Milos Teodosic | SG - Avery Bradley | SF - Danilo Gallinari | PF - Tobias Harris | C - DeAndre Jordan
If the Mavs are forced to play without Barnes, Wes Matthews could end up being the main beneficiary. The veteran guard has been a non-factor fantasy-wise over the last couple of weeks, but he could still be work himself to a strong fantasy night with the added usage he’ll likely enjoy with Barnes out of the lineup.
As for the Clippers, Montrezl Harrell will be an intriguing fantasy pick apart from the starting frontcourt of Jordan, Harris, and Gallo. Harrell had 14 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in just 19 minutes off the Clippers bench against the Bulls, and his infectious energy could once again be a handful against the Mavs’ big men.
If Barnes does miss out for the Mavs, it'll be tough to see them keeping it close against the Clippers. Now at full strength after the Blake Griffin trade, L.A. have the firepower to run away from a struggling Dallas team which already has enough problems as it is putting points on the board. Look for the Clippers to cover the six-point spread.
The Clippers run out relatively comfortable winners as they beat the Mavs at home, 115-103.
This game will be broadcast nationally on NBA TV, as well as on Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Fox Sports Southwest. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.