Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Preview
Both teams feature two of the most polarizing figures in the game today. This will already be the fourth matchup of the year between these two, with the Lakers taking two of three so far. In the last matchup, the Lakers held Luka Doncic to 19 points, going 0-6 from the 3-pt line. The huge difference in this matchup is that the Lakers will most likely be without AD after his hard fall last game against the Knicks. Lebron James began the game struggling from the field, and had a season-low of 13 points for the game. He still managed to get 13 assists, and they did not need much scoring from him. The Lakers had 5 total guys in double figures, mostly due to the playmaking of Lebron and consistent scoring touch of Anthony Davis inside. Although the Mavericks will be without Kristaps, Dwight Powell has stepped up his play of late.
Time: 9:30 PM ET
Arena: American Airlines Travel Stadium, Dallas, TX
Lakers: Anthony Davis (DTD)
Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis, Ryan Broekhoff
If Davis is unable to play, this will be the first game the Lakers are without him all season. Given the quality of bigs they have to protect the rim and rebound, the main concern will be another source of scoring. Going on the road against a talented Dallas team, Lebron will certainly need to go for 30+ and a near triple-double for them to have a chance.
Since suffering defeat on Christmas day, the Lakers have won six straight. This is their fourth such streak this season of winning six or more in a row. A team such as the Mavericks would have a great chance to end their streak. Given that they are on the road and will be without Davis, the Lakers will have their work cut out for them.
Dallas Starting Lineup
PG: Delon Wright
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF: Luka Doncic
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
C: Dwight Powell
The Mavericks are very talented across the board with some depth. Luka is obviously the do-it-all triple double type of guy for them. When healthy, Kristaps is that secondary scorer. Tim Hardaway is able to get hot at times and give a great scoring punch. Dwight Powell is a great pick and roll player who is very versatile on both ends of the court. They also have guys such as Max Kleber and Seth Curry who can change games off the bench. As a result, even if Doncic struggles from the field, this team can stay competitive in games.
The key for the Mavericks will be the rebound battle. The Lakers possess a lot of physical, lengthy players who can block shots and rebound at all positions. As a result, they will need to counter this with skill and IQ. The Mavericks have been inconsistent of late, losing 4 of their last 6. Look for them to play with lots of energy in their home arena as they look to defeat the shorthanded Lakers.
Key Player Matchups
Lebron James vs. Luka Doncic
This is the obvious headline leading up to the game and has been for the three previous matchups. Although James is a much more consistent and accomplished player at this stage in his career, Luka has shown that he is not scared whatsoever. Depending on how much they match up on one another, each will go at each other offensively throughout points in the game. Lebron James is reportedly coming off an illness as well, so Luka may be even more aggressive. If Luka is able to match Lebron statistically, his team will have a greater shot of winning this game.
Javale McGee vs. Dwight Powell
Both of these players are very similar in their approach to the game. Javale is the experienced veteran and a much better shot-blocker, while Powell is definitely the better all-around player. The key for both will be their pick and roll defense, along with controlling the glass. Powell and McGee are very explosive and aggressive when they are in the game. It will be interesting to see who starts off well in the first half.
Lebron James will have a great day considering the absence of AD. He will be more aggressive offensively and continue setting up his teammates. Both Javale and Dwight Howard will get more minutes than usual. Their rebounds and number of blocked shots should be very high to give the Lakers a chance against this hostile crowd. The Lakers will need one more player to step and score 20+, whether that be Kuzma or Caldwell-Pope.
Luka will have a great game fantasy-wise like usual. The key for him will be efficiency, as the Lakers have proven to bottle him up at times. Dwight Powell should have a solid game, along with a solid bench player given the weaknesses of the Lakers bench. This could range from Kleber to Seth Curry. The X-factor will be Hardaway Jr., as he actually got injured early in the 1st quarter in the previous matchup.
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