Monday, April 2, 2012
W2W4: Lob City returns in a key matchup
By Jeff Caplan
The Dallas Mavericks' rebounding woes continued Friday night at Orlando even though the rally from 15 points down focused attention in other, more pleasing areas.
The Magic outrebounded the Mavs by 10 overall and doubled them on the offensive glass. Dallas managed just two second-chance points for the entire game. Those types of numbers don't typically lead to wins.
Center Brendan Haywood's return after missing seven games with a sprained right knee was certainly a welcome boost for the defending champs, but they'll need more than three rebounds in 26 minutes from him, which is what Haywood managed against Dwight Howard.
"It was a tough game coming back against Dwight," Haywood said Monday morning on an appearance . "It doesn’t get any easier tonight because I’m going to be guarding Blake. I’m not 100 percent yet, but I’m working to get there."
Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers only rank 20th in the league in average number of rebounds gathered in a game (41.6), but they rank sixth in differential (plus-2.18), well ahead of the 23rd-ranked Mavs (minus-1.54).
The stakes are high in this one. The Clippers sit in the No. 4 spot in the West standings, which grants homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They enter tonight's game 1 1/2 games ahead of the fifth-seeded Mavs.
Records: Clippers (31-21); Mavericks (30-23)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Lob. That's what the Clippers do best and if the lobs are coming at a high rate it spells bad news for the Mavs. The key is to keep turnovers to a minimum and emphasize transition defense.
Key matchup: Chris Paul vs. Delonte West These are the type of matchups where the Mavs thoroughly missed West when he was out for some six weeks with the fractured right ring finger. Without him, Shawn Marion had the task of guarding smaller, quicker point guards and it physically took a toll on his body, forcing him out three games with a sore left knee. The big question that remains is if coach Rick Carlisle will move West into the starting lineup at shooting guard in place Vince Carter to set up the matchup from the opening tip.