> Tonight on NBA TV: Clippers vs. Mavericks (8:30 ET)
After an all-day, 14-game NBA marathon on Monday, it’s only right the next day features the only one-game slate of the 2019-20 NBA season. And that one game should be a good one.
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks will host Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers in Dallas on Tuesday night. The matchup, which could have playoff implications down the line, is sure to provide plenty of must-see moments and storylines to follow.
Before the action tips off on NBA TV, get ready with a look at five reasons to watch the only NBA game of the night.
* * *
1. LA shut down Doncic last time
Luka Doncic has been on a tear during his second season in the NBA with averages of 28.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game. But the 6-foot-7 playmaker struggled during his only matchup with the Clippers this season. On Nov. 26, LA held Doncic to 22 points on 4-for-14 shooting (0-for-8 on 3-pointers) with seven turnovers in the 114-99 loss, which snapped a five-game win streak for Dallas.
Expect a motivated Doncic to bounce back when the Clippers return to town tonight.
2. Kawhi in the zone
Kawhi Leonard enters Tuesday’s matchup in Dallas riding his longest 30-point streak of the season. The reigning Finals MVP has tallied 30-plus points in five straight games, including a season-high 43 points on 64% shooting in LA’s win against Cleveland last week. Leonard joins World B. Free and Bob McAdoo as the only Clippers players to score 30-plus points in five or more consecutive games. In fact, the 180 points scored in Leonard’s last five games is the most he’s ever scored over a five-game span in his career.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 18, 2020
The Clippers will need Leonard to deliver again on Tuesday as Paul George will be sidelined for a sixth straight game with a hamstring strain. George is traveling with the team on their current 6-game road trip, but he remains out.
3. Offensive juggernauts
The Mavericks and Clippers feature two of the top 5 offenses in the league. The Mavs’ sport the NBA’s No. 1 offense with a rating of 116.1, nearly three points higher than the Milwaukee Bucks’ No. 2-rated offense (113.2). The Clippers come in at No. 5 with a rating of 112.4.
A large amount of the offense for both teams comes from their benches, which rank No. 1 (Clippers) and No. 5 (Mavs) in scoring. The Clippers generate an NBA-best 51.7 ppg from their bench, while the Mavericks tally 42.1 ppg. Be sure to keep an eye on the two-man game from Lou Williams (20.0 ppg) and Montrezl Harrell (19.3 ppg), who do the majority of the damage for the Clippers’ bench.
LOU WILLIAMS. ICE COLD.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 18, 2020
4. Porzingis expected to return
Kristaps Porzingis has been sidelined since Dec. 31 with right knee soreness. But the 7-foot-3 sharpshooter is expected to be available against the Clippers tonight after he completed a successful practice on Sunday.
“The way I’m feeling, I don’t see why there should be any hurdles,” Porzingis said about his plan to play on Tuesday. “But you never know, so I’m just putting in the work, making sure the knee is strong, leg is strong.”
Porzingis is averaging 17.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 2.1 bpg in his first full season with the Mavericks. Dallas went 6-4 over their past 10 games without Porzingis and his return should give Dallas a boost against Leonard and the Clippers.
5. Schuhmann’s stats to know
Via NBA.com senior writer John Schuhmann
• Leonard’s effective field goal percentage of 51.6% is the worst mark of his career. And one issue is that he hasn’t been getting to the rim as much as he has in the past. Only 19% of his shots have come in the restricted area. That ranks as the 30th lowest rate among 160 players with at least 300 field goal attempts through Sunday and is down from 27% last season.
• Leonard has been getting to and finishing better at the rim over the last month (24% of his shots in the restricted area, 70% shooting there) than he was previously (16%, 65%). With Paul George out the last five games, Leonard has averaged 33.3 points on an effective field goal percentage of 62%. That stretch has come with his season high for restricted area makes (8-for-9 against the Warriors on Jan. 10) and attempts (6-for-10 in New Orleans on Saturday).
Make that seven career Player of the Week honors.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 21, 2020
• Even with Leonard’s effective field goal percentage a career-low mark, the Clippers’ fifth-ranked offense has been at its best (114.7 points scored per 100 possessions) with the Finals MVP on the floor. His rate of 16.1 assists per 100 possessions used is a career-best mark by a healthy margin. His career-high in assists prior to this season was eight, and he’s had four games of nine or more assists already this season.
• The 116.1 points per 100 possessions the Mavs have scored this season would qualify as the most efficient season in NBA history, topping that of last season’s Warriors (115.0). The Mavs have scored 7.1 points per 100 possessions more than the league average (109.0), a differential that would rank this as the 10th best offensive season in the 24 years for which we have play-by-play data.
• The previous meeting between these two teams (Nov. 26 in Dallas) was the Mavs’ worst offensive game of the season (99 points on 106 possessions). Doncic got 16 free throw attempts, but struggled with his shot and had more turnovers (seven) than assists (six). The defensive assignment was split pretty evenly between Paul George (2:23 of matchup time), Maurice Harkless (2:17) and Patrick Beverley (2:06).
• With Porzingis out the last 10 games, the Mavs’ offense hasn’t suffered. With a drop in turnovers and an increase in offensive rebounds (they lead the league in offensive rebounding percentage over the last three weeks), they’ve scored 118.6 points per 100 possessions over the 10 games.
• The Mavs have suffered defensively without the guy who ranks as the league’s second-best high-volume rim protector (opponents have shot just 49% at the rim when Porzingis has been there). Over the last three weeks, the Mavs rank 25th defensively, having allowed 113.9 points per 100 possessions over the 10 games without Porzingis.