The Clippers are getting another opportunity to demonstrate how they can deal with the high-powered Dallas Mavericks offensedirected by wunderkind Luka Doncic.
Doncic will have more help because forward Kristaps Porzingis is expected to play Tuesday against the Clippers after he missed 10 games with right knee soreness.
The Clippers held Doncic to four-for-14 shooting, including 0 for 8 on three-pointers, and forced him into seven turnovers when they won at Dallas, 114-99, on Nov. 26.
Coach Doc Rivers said “I think they all do” when asked if his defensive aces like Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard, who was named Western Conference player of the week for averaging 38 points, 5.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds over three games last week, look forward to facing the best offensives weapons in the NBA.
“When you play a LeBron [James], when you play a Luka, when you play a Giannis [Antetokounmpo], guys look forward to that,” Rivers said before practice Monday. “Sometimes maybe they shouldn’t because the guy is pretty good. People want to play against those types of guys. They don’t want to run from [it]; at least this team enjoys it.”
The Mavericks, winners of four in a row, average 116.7 points per game, third highest in the NBA. They make 36.4% of their threes, eighth best in the league.
“Dallas is another team with a high-powered offense,” Beverley said. “But we do the things we need to do consistently throughout the whole game and we’ll put ourselves in position to win.”
Having the 7-foot-3 Porzingis gives the Mavericks another threat the Clippers have to contend with. He is second on the Mavericks in scoring (17.3) and second in rebounding (9.4).
“You want to play teams when they are fully loaded, see what you got, see what you need to work on,” Rivers said.
Doncic has turned plenty of heads this season, and the second-year player is among the most-valuable-player candidates. He’s third in the NBA in scoring (28.9) and third in assists (9.0).
“What has impressed me the most is the joy he plays with,” Rivers said. “He has fun playing basketball. It’s infectious. I think his team kind of joins in on that. They play a fun way. Rick [Carlisle, the Mavericks’ coach] has done a good job of figuring out the offense to put around him. But his overall game is impressive. But I just like the way he approaches the game.”
Maurice Harkless, who missed Saturday’s game at New Orleans with a sore lower back, practiced Monday and has been listed as probable for the game against the Mavericks. Rivers said Paul George, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, would join the team in Dallas “but that doesn’t mean he’s playing.” The Clippers have listed him as out. They play at Atlanta on Wednesday night.
When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570
Update: The Clippers are seeking to extend their winning streak to four games. They are middle of the pack on defense, allowing 109.6 points, ranking 14th. But they are holding teams to 43.9% shooting, fifth best in the NBA.