"It's Murderer's Row of the power forward position," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Our fans are going to see the three best power forwards in the West in these two games -- Dirk [Nowitzki] and Griffin and Aldridge."
And then Carlisle paused as a thought -- or lob pass -- crossed his mind.
"And Chris Paul, he's another story," Carlisle said of the Clippers point guard, also an All-Star starter. "He's a monster, too."
He's also the difference between the Blazers and Clippers. Dallas eked out a double overtime win Saturday despite 23 turnovers that helped in blowing an 18-point lead. It also helped that the Blazers' backcourt of Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews and sixth man Jamal Crawford combined to go 13-of-51 from the field, including 3-of-15 from 3-point range.
Paul and the Clippers' backcourt, despite having lost big shot Chauncey Billups -- who made the buzzer-beating 3 in L.A. to drop the Mavs -- are dangerous shooters. Paul, who missed that first game with a hamstring issue, ranks third among guards in shooting percentage at 50.5 (and 43.1 percent from 3). Mo Williams, who crushed Dallas in the first meeting with his sharpshooting, is dropping 3s at nearly a 40-percent rate from beyond the arc. And don't sleep on Randy Foye launching from the outside.
As for the 41 turnovers Dallas has committed in the last two games without paying the price in the loss column, it'll be playing with fire if the count grows high again tonight.
Records: Clippers (17-8); Mavs (17-11)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: In the first meeting in L.A. on Jan. 18, the Lob Angeles Clippers -- or Lob City, whichever you prefer -- had five dunks and three alley-oops -- in the first half. And that was with lob maestro Chris Paul sitting on the sideline in a suit. He's back and Dallas' defense, on the perimeter and interior, will be put to the test to cut off the lob.
These two created quite a combo for the Mavs last season until an ugly knee injury sidelined Butler for six months, all the way though the championship run. His dedication to get back netted a three-year, $24 million deal with the Clippers and he's been a major asset to their early success, averaging 14.7 points and 3.9 rebounds. He's also still got the 3-point shot working, connecting at 35.8 percent. Marion's defensive exploits are well-chronicled these days. In the last two games alone he's gone against point guard Ricky Rubio and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Now he gets someone his own size. When Butler scores 17 or more points, L.A. is 6-2.
Injuries: Mavs - None. Clippers - G Chauncey Billups (torn left Achilles) is out.
Up next: Denver Nuggets at Mavs, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.