Game 9: Mavs at Clippers

LOS ANGELES — Despite trading All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Houston this summer in a multi-player exchange, the Los Angeles Clippers have remained one of the top contenders in the Western Conference early in the 2017-18 season due to their added depth.

Sending Paul to Houston in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations, the Clippers (4-2) were expected to take a step back this season. Instead, the L.A. team currently holds the second-best record in the West, making Wednesday’s nationally-televised matchup against the Dallas Mavericks even more intriguing. And with the Dallas team currently on a three-game losing streak, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knows his players will have to perform at a high level in order to take the Clippers down on their home floor.

“There are some differences, but their guard play is still excellent and they’re deeper at the guard position because they have Beverley and Williams and (Austin) Rivers,” Carlisle said while comparing last year’s Clippers team to the ’17-18 squad. “(Milos) Teodosic has been out, but when he gets back he’s a (heck) of a player. (Blake) Griffin is the major, major problem, and they’ve got other problems, too. (Danilo) Gallinari has been a good addition, because it gives them a scorer and spacing on the floor, and he gets to the free-throw line. And you know, they’ve just done a really good job of tweaking things.”

While the Mavericks (1-7) expect to have their hands full with the Clippers for 48 minutes, rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. will face his own daunting individual matchup Wednesday night.

Smith will likely be pressured for the full length of the court by the defensive-minded Beverley for four quarters. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old will attempt to hold his own against one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. And after studying film of Beverley, the Mavericks believe Smith is more than ready for the challenge ahead.

“It’s a challenge. We’ve showed him film and talked to him about it, and he’s going to have to be aggressive,” Carlisle said of Smith’s head-to-head matchup with Beverley. “He’s going to have to be smart with it. The first time around you’re seeing things for the first time. But they’re seeing him for the first time, too, so he’s got to bring his game in a big way, too.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Los Angeles for Wednesday’s matchup against the Clippers. The game will tip off at 9:30 p.m. CT, airing nationally on ESPN and locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dennis Smith Jr. (left knee effusion) — questionable
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee soreness) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

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