HOME TEAM: LA Clippers (2-0, 0-0 at home)
It’s never easy playing under a microscope, but the Clippers are responding well so far. They won their first two games in convincing fashion, beating West rivals Los Angeles Lakers (116-109) and Denver Nuggets (121-108). They led by 20-plus points on both occasions.
An extra challenge, however, will be on tap tomorrow as Kawhi Leonard is questionable to play. He caught an accidental elbow to the face from teammate Serge Ibaka during the Nuggets game and was left the court bloodied.
Kawhi’s potential absence should open up a big scoring night from Paul George, who’s on a much deeper path towards redemption. The oft-criticized forward is putting up 28.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 3.0 steals per game on 65.6% shooting after the two contests. We’ll see if he can continue to compile such numbers.
Ibaka (15.0 PPG) will be George’s main back-up scorer, followed by Ivica Zubac (11.5 PPG), and hopefully, Lou Williams (9.5 PPG). ‘Sweet Lou’ has been pretty sour this season due to the shifting of roles, but he’ll have an opportunity to create rhythm tomorrow.
The Clippers are averaging 118.5 PPG on the season. They went 7-2 against the Dallas Mavericks in 2019-20 (regular season and playoffs).
AWAY TEAM: Dallas Mavericks (0-2, 0-2 on the road)
The Mavericks’ supposed breakout campaign is currently derailed. They head to tomorrow’s action still winless after two games – one was an upset by of the Phoenix Suns, 106-102, and another was a blowout courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers, 138-115.
With or without Kawhi on the other side, tomorrow won’t be any easier for the Mavs. They are missing the presence of big man Kristaps Porzingis down low, as evident in getting thoroughly punished and outscored by the Lakers in the paint on Saturday, 35-0. Look for the Clipps to keep pounding the ball inside.
As always, Luka Doncic is the man for Dallas. The 21-year-old is averaging his usual numbers after two outings: 29.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He’ll need to deliver bigger stat lines, though, as the Mavs are in need of a rhythm-building win. He’ll also be in a spotlight with his Clipps counterpart, Paul George – and that’s only assuming Kawhi is unable to suit up.
Josh Richardson (14.5 PPG), Tim Hardaway Jr. (11.5 PPG), Trey Burke (12.0 PPG), Dorian Finney-Smith (10.5 PPG) are the Mavs’ secondary options. They’ll certainly have their hands full against a more proven and experienced Clippers supporting cast.
The Mavs are averaging 108.5 PPG on the season.
The Clippers’ warpath will continue. They should be able to get the W with or without Kawhi. George is on a mission to wipe away the playoff embarrassment last season, so expect him to stay aggressive. He’ll also be supported by solid bench play.
Clippers win, 116-106.