Are you concerned about the Mavs making the playoffs?
If so, several of this week's games should hold special interest to you, because they hold extra significance for the Mavs' chances to keep playing in the postseason.
Tonight's game is against the Clippers, who currently would be the 4th seed if the playoffs were to begin today, and would have home court advantage over the 5th seed Mavs in that matchup. But a Mavs' win narrows the gap between the two teams to only 1/2 game, with a dozen to play, and more importantly a win tonight clinches the tiebreaker for the Mavs if the two teams finish the season with identical records.
The Mavs play at home, rested, and with a healthy roster available.
The Mavs' next game will be Wednesday, against Memphis (currently in 6th). Again the Mavs will have the advantages of home court and rest, with Memphis on the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back. Later in the week, on Saturday, Dallas and Memphis will play again in Memphis, with both teams playing Friday away from Memphis. If the Mavs win both games, they will not only add two more wins to their advantage in the standings over the Grizzlies, but they will also clinch any playoff seeding tie-breaker with them.
While on the topic of playoff tie-breakers, it's worth mentioning that the Mavs have already clinched playoff seeding tie-breakers with the teams that are currently 7th (Denver), 8th (Houston), 9th (Utah), and 10th (Phoenix), which gives Dallas an extra advantage if they are in any peril of missing the playoffs as they near the end of the regular season.
The starting lineups, and NBA scouting info from Kyle Leath ...
F- Caron Butler
F- Shawn Marion
F- Blake Griffin
F- Dirk Nowitzki
C- DeAndre Jordan
C- Brendan Haywood
G- Randy Foye
G- Vince Carter
G- Chris Paul
G- Jason Kidd
NBA scout Kyle Leath's look at the Clippers Offense:
• Early Offense - Foye and Butler will spot up, Griffin gets to block for early post and they will clear out for Paul to work from wing. Like to run Hi/Lo post looks with Griffin at Hi Post. Drag with mid pick/roll with Griffin and Paul/Williams.
• Will run a lot of halfcourt offense out of a 1-4 set. Several options with wing entry and UCLA cut from PG. And when the play breaks down, as it did on the final play against Philly the other night, Paul - even while being guarded by the much bigger defensive ace Iggy -- finds a way ...
• Very effective at weak side cuts/flash when ball is entered to low post.
• Versus zone they will run a three-guard look with Griffin at Hi Post and Jordan low. Will sometimes run weakside guard through to corner to overload a side. Like most teams, not as good at ball movement vs. Zones. As well as Dallas plays zone, could be a factor.
• Special Situations – They are another team that looks to score of BLOBS/SLOBS instead of just get the ball in. On SLOBS, look for them to get the ball reversed to Griffin on the block.
• Jordan/Griffin very active and athletic on offensive boards. Dallas succeeds here in part because Griffin -- who is deadly at the rim -- has some trouble in mid-range. Dallas needs to keep him at mid-range. He's a matchup handful, but Dirk Nowitzki and others must stay between him and the rim.
The Clippers Defense:
• Man to man with good shot blockers at rim. They get a lot of hustle plays.
• Will show and recover effectively on Mid pick/rolls.
• Hit at the ball hard – Must be strong on drives, they will get their hands down and try get hands on ball.
• A little slow in weak-side defense. Weak side flashes, especially low to high when ball on wing can give them some trouble. Post can get caught behind on reversal
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NBA scout Kyle Leath on How to Beat the Clippers:
• DEFENSE – Get back in transition and make them play in the half court. Continue the trend of great team defense. Play some zone and negate their athleticism.
• REBOUND – They are an active offensive rebounding team, so rebounding needs to be of special focus. And it's not just Griffin who will be forceful with the putback ...
• FOCUS – Stay focused, the Clippers another explosive team that can score and get back in games. Dallas needs to work to get ahead and stay ahead ... using the approach that this is a No. 4-vs.-No. 5 "playoff game.''