LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers may only be a No. 6 seed in the Western Conference right now. But Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knows they are a very, very dangerous crew.
With point guard Chris Paul directing the show, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan providing the tremendous power inside, Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick banging in 3-pointers, and Jamal Crawford and Spencer Hawes added a different flavor off the bench, the Clips are one of the favorites to represent the West in this year’s NBA Finals. Today at 2:30, the Clippers (24-12) will show the Mavs (26-11) just how impressive they’ve been when the two teams collide at the STAPLES Center.
Carlisle, though, already has the 4-1-1 on the Clippers.
"Chris Paul is a great player, he’s great at getting in the lane and scoring and getting other guys involved, connecting on lobs,’’ Carlisle said. "You name it, he’s good at it.
"Their big guys, Griffin and Jordan, are great rebounders. We’ve got to keep them off the lobs as much as possible, and they’ve got great shooting with Redick.’’
And that’s not all.
"Barnes is shooting the ball great, Crawford is always a major threat,’’ Carlisle said. "And this year they also got Hawes off the bench as a stretch big, and that’s another dimension that they’ve added that makes them tough.’’
A big duo up front like San Antonio has with Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, Detroit has with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and the Clippers has with Griffin and Jordan always seem to give the Mavs a bunch of problems. Thus, the Mavs will have to reach down deep in order to emerge with a victory over the Clippers.
"They just have a big physical front line,’’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "DeAndre got better every year and he’s a double-double waiting to happen.
"They’re a good team. And obviously CP3 running the show distributing the ball to the shooters and the bigs, so they’re a tough team and we got to be ready.’’
Griffin, who averages 22.6 points, is an athletic freakish-type player who plays the same power forward position as Nowitzki. But Nowitzki let it be known that they likely won’t be matched up against one another.
"It’s probably safe to say I probably won’t be guarding him,’’ Nowitzki said. "That’s why we brought Tyson (Chandler) back.’’
Nowitzki will guard Jordan, who is much slower and less athletic than Griffin.
"(Griffin is) a great young scorer in this league,’’ Nowitzki said. "I think he expanded his game ever since he got into the league.
"He was all power game at the beginning, and dunks. Now its right left jump hooks. He’s made some threes this season, so he’s a handful for everybody.’’
So, too, are the Clippers as a whole.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760