The Dallas Mavericks finally got the monkey off their back on Tuesday by not only winning their first game in the NBA restart against the Sacramento Kings, but doing so in CLUTCH fashion.
Tonight’s game is a ‘could-be’ NBA playoff first-round matchup preview, as Luka Doncic and the Mavs look to upset the star-studded Los Angeles Clippers in Orlando.
Both the Mavs and Clippers are 1-2 in the ‘Bubble’, with the four losses coming by a total of just 10 points. The Clippers are coming off a tough loss to the Phoenix Suns and Devin Booker’s incredible performance.
A calf injury knocked Patrick Beverley out of the game and the Clippers have listed him ‘out’ vs. Dallas. Montrezl Harrell, who always seems to give the Mavs fits (he grabbed seven offensive rebounds the last time he faced Dallas), is also not with the Clippers, currently, due to a personal matter.
As always, Kawhi Leonard presents an extremely difficult matchup for Dallas, which needs to figure out a way to at least slow the three-time champ, despite having limited defensive weapons. Leonard and Paul George are two of the best two-way wings in the league. The Mavs lost both games against the Clippers in the regular season before the hiatus.
Because of the two early losses, Dallas has little chance of moving up from seventh place in the Western Conference standings, which means a first-round playoff matchup with the second seed.
The Clippers are currently in second, but are far from locking up that spot. The Denver Nuggets, after a win over the San Antonio Spurs today, are just a half-game back of the Clippers in the standings. If the Mavs beat the Clippers on Thursday night, and the Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver will launch itself into the second seed with a chance to control its own destiny the rest of the way.
IT'S DONCIC'S WORLD
The Mavs’ win over the Kings was with much thanks to Luka Doncic. He led the Mavs with 34 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists as he registered his 12th 30-point triple-double, the ninth most in NBA history. Doncic didn’t just lead the Mavs in that game... he willed them to victory. That same type of effort will likely be needed if the Mavs hope to upset the Clippers.
The stat line by Doncic marks the first time an NBA player finished a game with at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists since 1976, when it was accomplished by ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The 21-year-old is now the youngest player in NBA history to record 30+ points, 20+ rebounds and 10+ assists in a single game.
Beverley is out with calf soreness. Harrell is listed as day-to-day (personal). Seth Curry (right leg soreness) is OUT, per coach Rick Carlisle's pregame address.
The following Mavs are out and will not be participating in the bubble: Dwight Powell (Achilles), Jalen Brunson (shoulder), Willie Cauley-Stein (personal) and Courtney Lee (calf).
“When your star player is doing that out there on the floor and leading by example, it shows a lot and it makes the guys around him play just as hard,” said Tim Hardaway Jr. of teammate Doncic.
Game Time: 5:30 p.m. CT
Location: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Southwest/TNT, ESPN 103.3 FM, Univision 1270 AM
Records: Mavericks (41-29, 7th in the West), Clippers (45-22, 2nd in the West)
OFF-COURT FUN CONTINUES: