The Dallas Mavericks were the latest victim of the Detroit Pistons’ improbable seven-game winning streak this past Wednesday. Does this mean they’re in trouble as they go to Los Angeles as an NBA betting dog to take on the Clippers, or was that just a one-game irregularity this team can overcome?
The Dallas Mavericks Can Win Because…
There is a distinct feeling in and around the Los Angeles Clippers that this season has not brought what it was supposed to bring. This was supposed to be the season in which the Clippers, no longer playing for Donald Sterling and freed from the circus of that long and difficult spring and summer, would be liberated on and off the court. The Clippers, under new owner Steve Ballmer, were expected to be better, expected to contend for the Western Conference championship and make a deeper playoff run than just the second round. Yet, through 36 games – which is almost half of the full regular season – there’s not a lot to suggest that Los Angeles is on the right track. The 24-12 record isn’t bad, but it’s on pace for a 54-win season, which would not put the Clippers in the top two or three of the Western Conference. They would be in the 4-versus-5 first-round matchup at best, and could very possibly end up in the sixth position they currently occupy. If the Clippers want to be championship contenders, their current pace won’t cut it.
Los Angeles is a modest 6-4 in its last 10 games. The Clippers lost at home to the Atlanta Hawks this past Monday. They got swept by the Hawks this season, a bad sign for a West contender. The Mavericks, on the other hand, are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They now have Rajon Rondo on their roster and can say that they’re building something. The Clippers are much more a picture of stagnation. Dallas also has a strong 13-5 road record, actually half a game better than the Mavs’ home record. Dallas averages 109.1 points per game, the second-best offensive total in the league.
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The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
They have the strong defense needed to defuse Dallas’ very potent offense. Yes, the Mavericks can do all sorts of things to spread the court and attack defenses. They have Rondo distributing the ball, Monta Ellis slashing to the hoop with his quickness, and Dirk Nowitzki hitting his impossible-to-block jump shots. The Clippers, though, have made their mark on defense this season. In the loaded Western Conference, they’re able to hold opponents under 100 points per game. This is something Dallas doesn’t do as well. The Mavericks allow an average of 102 points per game, so the Clippers’ offense – which scores just over 106 points per game – can do a lot of damage. Los Angeles’ defense is what can win this game on home hardwood. It should also be pointed out that Dallas got pounded – not just defeated, but blown out – at home by Detroit on Wednesday. You can say that it’s just a matter of Detroit being hot, but the Pistons were playing the second half of a back-to-back set in that game. Dallas was not playing the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday. That’s a head-scratching loss for the Mavs. They might not be sorted out as they play this game on Saturday afternoon.
The Mavericks are an excellent road team, and with two full days to rest before this game, we are backing the Mavericks with our NBA picks. Expect Dallas to beat the Clippers, who have failed to lift themselves to the next level in the Western Conference.
Free NBA Pick: Dallas at The Greek