DALLAS MAVERICKS (1-7)
at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (4-2)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Mavs are off to the worst start of any team in the league.
In a Western Conference that is even more crowded than ever before this season, few expected the Dallas Mavericks to be in contention for a playoff spot. Then again, few thought they would be as bad as they have been to start the year. The Mavs are 1-7 and 2-6 against the spread in the early going. After getting its first win in a victory over Memphis, Dallas has lost three straight: the road leg of a home-and-home against the Grizzlies, a tightly contested home game to Philadelphia and a 15-point road defeat to Utah. The downtrodden Mavs will try to buck up for a national TV game on Wednesday night, when they'll remain on the road for a 10:30 pm ET matchup with the Clippers. Los Angeles started the year 4-0, but dropped two consecutive home contests to Detroit and Golden State to fall to 4-2 (4-2 ATS). The Warriors loss was a blowout at a final score of 141-113, and it was the Clippers' 11th consecutive loss in the series between the two teams. Last year, these two teams split their four regular season contests.
For a second consecutive season, SF Harrison Barnes is leading the Mavericks in scoring. At 16.6 PPG, though, that's not saying a whole lot, and his 12.1 PER certainly doesn't paint him in a flattering light. He had his best game of the year in the near-win against Philly, scoring 25 points on 17 shots. It's also probably not a good sign for the team that 33-year-old backup PG J.J. Barea is second on the team in scoring at 13.6 PPG. Offering hope for the future is rookie PG Dennis Smith Jr., who has started in all six of the game's he's played. He's had to sit out two games with swelling in his knee, something that could possibly be of concern going forward. He led the way for the Mavs in their lone win this season, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists in the victory over Memphis. PF Dirk Nowitzki is far from the player he once was at an average of 11.1 PPG, but he was Dallas's leading scorer against Utah on Monday night with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The team retained C Nerlens Noel through some awkward contract negotiations in the offseason, and he's still yet to live up to the hype that made him a high draft pick several years ago. The team is still waiting for the return of PG Seth Curry, who remains out for likely another two weeks with an injury. It's unclear how his arrival in the lineup will impact Smith's playing time.
With the offense running through him instead of departed PG Chris Paul, PG Blake Griffin has shown a return to the form that had him on the outskirts of the MVP conversation several seasons ago. One of the highlights of the early NBA season came last Thursday, when he capped off a 25-point, eight-rebound, five-assist night with a three-pointer at the buzzer to take down Portland 104-103 to keep the Clippers undefeated. He's been quieter in their two losses since, though, and was especially ineffective against Golden State, scoring 16 points on 10 shots and managing only three rebounds. His +/- of -23 was also second worst on the team in that game. No one else was worse than -17 except for sixth man SG Lou Williams, who posted an ugly -31. Williams managed 17 points by earning 11 free throw attempts, and SF Danilo Gallinari led the team in scoring on the night with 19 points. Gallo and Lou Will are averaging 14.2 and 13.2 PPG, respectively, thus far in their early days as Clippers. Newly added PG Patrick Beverley is putting up 13.3 PPG, making three of the top four scorers in Los Angeles players who were not on the roster last season. C DeAndre Jordan is averaging only 9.2 PPG, which would be his lowest total since the 2012-13 season. His .524 FG% would easily be the lowest of his careerólast season he posted a career high of .714. He is still ruthless on the boards, though, averaging 16.3 RPG.