The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the more surprising teams in the NBA so far this season. This is a team that currently sits at 15-14 in the rugged Western Conference. However, the Mavericks have had their fair share of struggles as of late, dropping their last three games against the likes of the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets. In their most recent 126-118 loss to the Nuggets, the Mavericks played well as they shot 46.5 percent from the field and forward Harrison Barnes led the way with 30 points.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Clippers have struggled just as much if not more than the Mavericks. This is a group that has lost four consecutive games and hasn't been the same since guard Lou Williams suffered a hamstring injury earlier this month. The Clippers were held to under 100 points in two of the last four games that they lost. Ironically, they haven't won since beating Phoenix on Dec. 10, which was the last game that Williams appeared in.

These are two teams that desperately need to obtain a win and both could show a sense of urgency.

How to watch 

  • Date: Thursday, Dec. 20
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Staples Center -- Los Angeles, California
  • TV: TNT
  • Streaming: fuboTV - (free trial - NBA League Pass add-on available)
  • Live stats: GameTracker
  • Odds: Clippers -3.5

Odds and analysis

Check Sportsline's NBA pick sheet for all your daily odds.

Storylines

Mavericks: Luka Doncic has been the story for the Mavericks throughout the season so far. The rookie phenom has looked like a grizzled veteran at times and is currently averaging a team-high 18.4 points per contest. While the Mavericks have been struggling, the talent is definitely there for this group. The frontcourt is led by Barnes and DeAndre Jordan, who provide veteran leadership that the team needs as they transition from a rebuilding team to a potential contender. It'll be worth watching to see if Doncic keeps his stellar play going against the Clippers, as well as Jordan facing off against his former team.

Clippers: Despite coming off the bench the large majority of the time, the loss of Williams is one that clearly is hurting the Clippers. While he'll likely return over the next few weeks, Los Angeles is going to need more scoring production up and down the roster. Tobias Harris did just about as much as he possibly could in the team's latest loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Harris was tied for a game-high 39 points on the night and knocked down 15 of his 22 field-goal attempts. Look for Harris to do more of the same against a very balanced Dallas team.

Game prediction, pick

Both teams certainly could stand to get back into the win column. The Clippers have been hurt by the loss of Williams, but they have the potential to get the job done at home. It'll be close as the line suggests, but Los Angeles takes this one.