Dallas at L.A. Clippers
Time: 9:30 PM (CT), ESPN
Spread: LAC -10
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Dallas Mavericks have been struggling as owners of a 1-7 mark through the season’s first two weeks. Dallas will travel to face the No. 2 team in the West, the 4-2 Los Angeles Clippers. L.A. has lost its past two games, and enters tonight as 10-point favorites at home over Dallas, as the Mavericks have yet to win on the road this season (0-3).
Dallas’ primary problem has been an inability to score the basketball, as the second-lowest scoring team in the West thus far. Harrison Barnes 16.6 points per game lead the way, and the Mavs have a balanced attack but are going to need more from the ancient Dirk Nowitzki as he is now showing all the signs of a serious decline.
Dirk is averaging just 11 points per game in 25 minutes a night while shooting a very “unNowitzki” like percentage of 40.5 percent from the floor. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. has been impressive, but he is under 40 percent from the field and his PER lingers at 10.4 due to the inefficiency. Smith Jr was a hot pick for a “Darkhorse” rookie of the year candidate, and that still may hold true with the NC State product averaging three boards and 5.7 assists per game.
Not to overshadow last year’s breakout rookie Yogi Ferrell, however, Ferrell has posted 11.9 points and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 46.7 percent from behind the arc. There is still potential for Dallas to right the ship and turn things around this season, but it really all lies upon how much Nowitzki has left, as well as if Barnes can increase his efficiency by leaps and bounds. Though leading the club in scoring, Barnes is shooting just 37 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three-point range.
The Mavericks have the pieces, but so much inefficiency has left the team with a -8.8 point differential in games, which is the third-worst mark in the Western Conference. If Dallas finishes anywhere but the cellar this season, it will be because Nowitzki gets his rhythm and Barnes becomes more selective with his scoring.
The Clippers have handed the keys to Blake Griffin in the departure of Team leader Chris Paul. And Griffin has certainly responded. The power forward is averaging 23.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while leading the way with a PER of 23.4. New addition Danilo Gallinari is second on the club in scoring with 14.2 points per game and 5.0 assists per night. Fellow new addition Patrik Beverley has stepped up into Paul’s role as a defender, and he is keying the team’s transitions opportunities with 2.17 steals per game to go with his 13.3 points and 3.3 assists per night.
The Clippers have also added a couple nice bench cogs in Lou Williams and center Willie Reed. Reed is the progeny of NBA legend Willis Reed, and he is averaging six points, four rebounds and 0.3 blocks in just 11 minutes per night off the Clips’ bench. The Clippers are still headed in the right direction sans CP3, and though DeAndre Jordan’s offensive game has been hindered by Paul’s departure, the beast in the paint is averaging 16.3 rebounds per game in addition to his nine points per contest. The Clips changed looks, shed Paul, but still appear to be quasi-contenders in a Conference still likely to be owned by the Golden State Warriors.