At full strength, a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks is one to get excited about. New acquisition Chris Paul is likely going to miss Wednesday evening's match-up due to injury, however, so fans will have to settle for a match-up between the league's two best power forwards (as voted on by NBA general managers).
Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki are both pretty unique players at the same position, but offer strikingly dissimilar skill sets. Whereas Griffin relies on his athleticism and hustle, veteran Dirk is able to do the majority of his work on the offensive end with a craftiness that's rarely exhibited in the NBA this era. Both are fun to watch, to be sure, but the 'power forward' position is one without any certain skill set -- only relative size.
The big thing to watch on Wednesday night, however, is how the Clippers rebound from a 29-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. Clips Nation's Steve Perrin believes that loss could actually help against the Mavs, oddly enough.
The Clippers suffered their worst and most embarrassing defeat of the season last night against the Jazz in Salt Lake City. I'm not suggesting that it was a strategy to tank that game and conserve their energy for the home crowd back in Staples tonight, but if they beat the Mavs, then it will all have paid off. I mean, no one really expected them to sweep a back-to-back-to-back, right? The real question is whether they'll have Chris Paul back (and to a lesser extent, Mo Williams). The starters should be able to hang with most teams even without them (although that certainly wasn't in evidence Tuesday), but the bench becomes a joke.
The good news about a loss as bad as the one the Clippers suffered in Utah is that you don't really have to agonize over it. They got thrashed, it's over, move on. Hopefully they'll have much more energy in front of the home crowd tonight (last night they looked like they were playing in mud, but that can happen to a sea level team on a one day trip above 4000 feet).
It should be interesting to see if Perrin's optimism shows through on Wednesday night when the two teams face off on ESPN.