Dallas at L.A. Clippers
Time: 9:30 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: LAC -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Los Angeles Clippers might be gutting their roster, but it is staying competitive while doing it. The Clippers currently are 26-25 and just one game out of the No. 8 spot in the West.
It will host the rebuilding Dallas Mavericks as 6.5-point favorites in a late game televised on NBA TV. The betting total is set at 213 according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The Clippers (26-25) parted ways with star forward and former No.1 overall draft pick Blake Griffin last week, but received the rental contract of Avery Bradley and productive swingman Tobias Harris.
Harris adapted well to the trade by leading the Clippers in scoring 24 along with another 24 from Danilo Gallinari. Bradley started and had eight points and four assists. DeAndre Jordan could be the next big Clipper to be dealt, but he had 16 rebounds and three points. The Clippers are a team in transition, but there is simply too much talent for a real tanking effort to occur. It is hard to gather momentum with so many faces due to change this offseason, but in the meantime there are far worse rotations than what the Clippers put out on a nightly basis.
Lou WIlliams is quietly having a career year, and he had 21 points off the bench in the win over Chicago. The Sixth Man is averaging 23.4 points and 5.2 assists per game in 32 minutes a night this year, and he should win the Sixth Man of the Year contest, if not Houston’s Eric Gordon. Williams pairs particularly well with swingman Austin Rivers, who has come on and matured a lot this season while becoming a very solid rotation player for the Clips. Rivers is averaging 15.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while posting a PER of 13.1.
Harris should assume a role similar to what Griffin did, and it may be that Tobias Harris breaks out in a Clippers uniform. He has similar traits to Griffin and the Clippers could seamlessly transition if Harris could take on a big workload as a primary scorer. Of course, Gallinari is capable of his big nights with his deft shooting stroke, and in all, the Clippers are just a rather talented offensive team that should be able to stay afloat with so many seasoned veterans playing for contracts.
Dallas (17-36), while probably out of realistic contention for the 2018 playoffs, has several reasons to be excited about the progress of what has to be called one of the stranger rebuilds in recent history. While still clinging to what is left of Dirk Nowitzki’s career, the Mavs are nevertheless in something of a tank mode, bent on developing their young talents and positioning themselves for another high pick in the 2018 draft. And that is not all bad. The No. 8 overall pick from the 2017 draft has thus far panned out brilliantly for Dallas, as Dennis Smith Jr. is becoming a household name on a horrible team, which is something of a task in and of itself.
Smith has only been getting more aggressive and better as his rookie season has worn on. Over the Mavericks last five games (four of which were losses), he has averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting just 32 percent from the floor. His three-point stroke still leaves some room for improvement at just 31.6 percent on the season, but what he lacks in marksmanship he makes up for with extra-worldly athleticism.
Smith’s highlights should keep him on everyone’s radar until the Mavericks build a team around him, but in the meantime, it is difficult to ignore what he is doing already. Smith had 12 points and five assists in the 106-99 victory over Sacramento last outing on Feb. 3, and while outside of swingman Harrison Barnes, not much surrounds him, he does look to have the makings of a true superstar to cede Nowitzki after he finally decides to hang it up.
Dirk still has started all 53 games this season, but he is just playing 25 minutes a night and averaging a very humble 12 points and five rebounds per game. Perhaps the most telling part of his decline, however, has not been the reduction in minutes and usage, but the fact Nowitzki is shooting just 46 percent from the field and attempting just under 10 shots per game. While his guile and skill should enable him to remain at least this effective a little longer, there is no delusional Mavericks fan that is waiting nor expecting him to return to the MVP-caliber play by which his career became known for.
Nevertheless, Barnes (18.4 points per game) and Smith should keep Dallas relevant once Dirk does retire, and the Mavericks may ultimately look for a frontcourt replacement this year in the NBA Draft. It is a rebuild certainly that has more promise than others around the league, despite the fact it is hard to just call it a rebuild while rostering a Hall of Fame talent, still. The L.A. Lakers just rebuilt that way, however, so to say it is entirely uncharted ground would be a bit inaccurate, too.
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