The Mavs will begin Life Without Dirk today against the Los Angeles Clippers. And if ever the Mavs needed a softball to get some in-game practice on how to play without Dirk on the floor, this is the team to do it against. The Mavs have now won four straight against the Clips, and things haven't been going any better for them lately as they have lost seven straight and are 21-48 on the season.
Brand still out
If anybody can feel your pain about their missing star power forward, it's the Clippers. They have been without Elton Brand all season due to a preseason Achilles injury, which is the main reason why they have been so stinky. He was optimistic earlier in the season about returning for the last few weeks of the season, but that is obviously becoming more far fetched as the end comes near. The only reason Brand would want to return is to show that he is over the injury and get at least a little bit of run before the season ends, presumably to boost his value for a potential contract opt out this summer. He may opt out whether he returns or not, but it's obvious that the Clippers are treating him like he won't opt out and obviously see no value in bringing him back to finish a busted season.
Kaman out, too?
Most Improved Player candidate Chris Kaman, who bloomed in Brand's absence, has missed his last eight games with a back injury has said he intends to return tonight. If he can return, he provides a strong presence down low that the Clippers have missed in their seven-game losing streak. He's averaging career highs in points (16.0), rebounds (13.1), assists (1.9), blocks (2.9) and steals (0.6).
Powell fills in nicely
With Kaman out, a scoring and rebounding hole was created. In his stead, former Maverick Josh Powell has stepped in admirably and has played very well in his last few games. Over his last five games (all starts at center) the 6-foot 9-inch Powell has averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and is playing more than 30 minutes per night. When Kaman returns, he is sure to go back to playing under 20 per night, but the Clippers have to be happy with what they've seen.
Will Elton Brand opt out of the final year of his contract this summer? If he does, will he re-sign with the Clippers?
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd