Clippers vs. Mavericks: Bench Players Who Will Make or Break the Game

Morgan Chalfant@@mchalfant16Contributor IIIMarch 26, 2013

Jamal Crawford will see plenty of minutes on Tuesday with Paul, Billups and Bledsoe dealing with injuries.
Jamal Crawford will see plenty of minutes on Tuesday with Paul, Billups and Bledsoe dealing with injuries.Harry How/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers will head to the American Airlines Center to go up against the Dallas Mavericks. This will prove a big game for the Clippers bench, seeing as guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups are game-time decisions due to recent injuries, as The Los Angeles Times reported.

Moreover, Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe will surely be watching his minutes due to a recent calf injury. He played 10 minutes against Brooklyn Saturday night and totaled seven points, two rebounds and one assist. He will likely play limited minutes against Dallas to avoid aggravating his calf.

As a result, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford will have to step up to the plate. The 33-year-old shooting guard played great on March 19 during the Clippers’ loss to Sacramento, scoring 25 points in 35 minutes and going 5-of-8 from the three-point range. Crawford is also a favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Another key Clippers player will be power forward Lamar Odom, who returns to Dallas for the first time on Tuesday since handing in his Mavericks uniform. Though Odom doesn’t score much, he’s solid on the boards, averaging 5.8 rebounds in 20.4 minutes of game play for this season.

As for Dallas, center Brandan Wright and shooting guard Vince Carter are important players coming off the bench. Wright’s statistics for the last 10 games are an improvement upon his season numbers because of his increased play; he's averaged 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 24.5 minutes over the last 10 matchups.

Wright had a stellar game against the Celtics on March 22, totaling 23 points and eight rebounds to lead Dallas to a 104-94 victory over Boston. Seeing as the Mavericks need all the help they can get to improve their defensive play, Wright will be an important factor on defense against the Clippers.

Vince Carter also plays an important role as a backup for guard O.J. Mayo. This season, Carter is averaging 13.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in a solid 25.3 minutes. Like Wright, Carter had an impressive game against the Celtics on March 22, scoring 19 points and totaling five rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes.

Tuesday’s game is a crucial one for Dallas. The Mavericks are currently two games behind the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference. With three of the Clippers' guards battling injuries, the Mavericks could have a chance to take the win if Wright and Carter play like they did against Boston.

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