Monday, April 2, 2012
What to watch: Clippers-Mavericks
By Arash Markazi
Clippers (31-21) vs. Dallas Mavericks (30-23) at American Airlines Arena, 5:30 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Historic streak: After losing three games in three days last month, the Clippers have put together one of the franchise's best winning streaks since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. The Clippers won their fifth straight game last Saturday against the Utah Jazz, giving them their first five-game winnings streak since Nov. 2- Nov.12, 2006. If the Clippers can beat Dallas on Monday, it would give the Clippers their first six-game winning streak since March 18 – March 31, 1992. The longest winning streak in franchise history is 11 games from Nov. 3 – Nov. 23, 1974 when the Clippers were the Buffalo Braves. Since relocating to Los Angeles, the Clippers have had just three winning streaks of six-games or longer. If the Clippers beat Dallas they will also equal last season's victory total (32) in 29 fewer games.
2. Moving on up: The Clippers are now 10 games over .500 (31-21) following their win over the Jazz on Saturday. It's only the third time that the Clippers have been more than five games over .500 this many games into a season since moving to Los Angeles. They finished the season eight games over .500 in 1991-92 and 12 games over .500 in 2005-06. Those are the only two seasons in which the Clippers finished over .500 since moving to L.A. The Clippers recent 5-0 homestand helped them move up to fourth in the Western Conference and within a game and half of the Lakers. It was just the third time in franchise history that the Clippers had gone undefeated in a homestand of five games or more.
3. Surviving March: The Clippers survived a brutal stretch of playing 20 games in 31 days in March with an 11-9 record. The Clippers are the first team in 45 years since the Cincinnati Royals in Feb. 1967 to play 20 or more games in a single month. The Clippers salvaged their record in the month with a 5-0 homestand and the inspired play of Chris Paul, who had 26 points and six assists on Saturday against Utah. Paul had 185 total assists in March, establishing a new Clippers franchise record for assists in a calendar month, passing Norm Nixon’s 179 assists for the San Diego Clippers in November 1983.
4. Playoff push: After playing five games in ten days at home, the Clippers will now finish the season by playing nine of their last 14 games on the road starting in Dallas on Monday. The Clippers have improved on defense since their three game losing streak but their ability to score more easily after not reaching 100 points in nine straight games has been just as big a factor in their turnaround. This season, the Clippers are 19-3 when scoring over 100 points and 12-18 when scoring under the century mark. Hitting the 100 point mark on the road has become even more important for the Clippers who are 9-1 when scoring over 100 points but just 2-12 when scoring under 100 points.
5. Close call: The Clippers have played in 20 games this season that have been decided by 5 points or less. After a tough stretch of blowing such games after Chauncey Billups was lost for the season the Clippers are now 11-9 in games decided by 5 points or less. The Clippers nine losses by five points or less is the fourth highest total in the NBA this season. Paul has been a huge factor in the Clippers’ ability to close out games. Paul is one of the league leaders in fourth-quarter scoring, averaging 5.8 points in the final period, fourth-most in the NBA.