The Dallas Mavericks begin a tough schedule tonight as they will be on the road for nine of their next 12 games and that tough road trip begins against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Each team in this game will see several players who used to play for the the other.
The Clippers have former Mavs Caron Butler and Lamar Odom while Dallas has former Los Angeles starters Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.
Speaking of Odom, this is the first time he will face the Mavericks since being traded this off-season. It may not mean as much this time around since it is in Los Angeles, but Mavs fans will still be watching at home to see how well Odom does against Dallas.
Last season, Odom had the worst year of his pro career and that was just a season after he won the NBA‘s Sixth Man Of The Year Award. In my opinion, he was a killer to the Mavs’ chemistry, which plagued them the entire 2011 season.
Odom complained that he couldn’t believe that he would be traded away from Hollywood. He was sad that he was not “home” and never hesitated to let everyone know about it. The Mavs deactivated him at the end of the season, but it was already too late for the former NBA champ. Then after the season, he was traded to the team that drafted him back in 1999, the Clippers.
However, Odom is the last thing the Mavs should be worried about tonight since he has not done much for Los Angeles since returning to the team. Dallas’ main focus tonight should be on its depth.
The Clippers have four players who are averaging over 10 points per game with Jamal Crawford leading the way with 17.6 points and Blake Griffin right behind him with 17.5 points a game.
The Mavs, on the other hand, have four guys scoring in double figures; O.J. Mayo is averaging 20.2 points per game and behind him is Chris Kaman with 13.6 points.
The Mavs need to have a good shooting night to beat the Clippers. It’s going to be difficult, but as long as Mayo is scoring fairly often, they could have a shot to come away with a victory. However, they are going to need Vince Carter and Darren Collison each to score over 15 points from the bench.
Collison is also a big key in tonight’s game. He has been replaced in the starting lineup by Derek Fisher and he has already said that he’s unhappy with the change. Well, tonight Collison needs to suck it up and play basketball. He needs to show Rick Carlisle and his teammates that he can be a consistent player night in and night out to have hopes of geting his starting job back.
Another guy who needs to have a great game is Brand, who has played great since being benched, but he could start tonight. He has not been all that great when he starts, but maybe being benched has sparked a fire in him. Brand needs to have a great scoring night with over 10 points to go along with at least eight rebounds.
Also, this could be a game in which Fisher gets his legs back. He was God awful Saturday night, but he has a good chance to change that tonight. Fisher has always been the guy who can shoot the ball from the field and is not afraid to take it to the basket. If he gets it going tonight like he has in the past then it could be a high scoring game.
Either way, tonight needs to be a quick game for Dallas. If the Mavs can surprise everyone and get some wins on this difficult road schedule then they will have a decent record just in time for Dirk Nowitzki to return.