Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview (12/25/22): Prediction, Odds, Starting Lineups

For the second Christmas game, the Los Angeles Lakers (13-19) take on the Dallas Mavericks (17-16) in an injury riddled contest. Anthony Davis is out for the foreseeable future, while Thomas Bryant and Juan Toscano-Anderson are questionable. On the other side, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, Josh Green, Jaden Hardy, and Kemba Walker are questionable. Maxi Kleber is confirmed to be out due to a severe hamstring injury.

Who will win the duel: LeBron James or Luka Doncic? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks Betting Odds

The Mavericks are heavily favored; the spread was initially released at -7.5, but it’s climbed to -8.5. Dallas’ moneyline is completely unplayable at -350. The Lakers moneyline can be found at +290, so they must win 26% of the time to be profitable long-term. The 230 over under line is the second largest of the day only behind Suns Nuggets.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks Prediction

Although it’s a steep price, I’m taking the Mavericks to cover (I got it at -7.5).

The biggest factor in this matchup is Davis’ injury. He was playing at an MVP-caliber level on offense, and he provided LeBron James with a scoring partner. With Davis out, the Lakers are relying on Lonnie Walker, Russell Westbrook, and Austin Reaves to not only score at a high rate, but create their own shot. Against a tough Mavericks perimeter defense, that’s a formidable task for players that don’t usually hold these expectations. Los Angeles cannot count on a barrage of three-pointers to compensate for their inconsistencies either because they lack sharpshooters.

Davis’ impact on the other end was equally vital, as he locked down the paint, read rotations swiftly, and played tremendous help defense. Without Davis in the paint, Luka Doncic will easily bypass the Lakers perimeter defense and not have to contend with an elite rim protector. Because the Lakers trot out undersized guards too, Luka likely weaponizes his newly found post offense and either shred his isolation defender or find an open spot up shooter. Christian Wood will be a popular target for Doncic considering Thomas Bryant lacks the mobility to truly stick to him on the arc.

On a broader level, the underlying metrics heavily favor the Mavericks. They rank 2nd in BBall Index’s Overall Shot Quality metric, which captures the quality of a shot based on nearest defender, court location, individual skills, offensive rebound chance, etc.

The following chart displays indications of Dallas’ long-term success by measuring net 3PT shot quality and opponent shooting luck. To do this, it contains the metrics net open + wide open 3PA per 100 possessions (which is own minus opponent’s) and opponent eFG% on open + wide open FGA.

Lakers Mavericks Metrics

As you can see, Dallas easily leads the NBA in producing more open + wide open 3PA than their opponent per 100 possessions at around 11. Meanwhile, the Lakers struggle in this department by allowing around 3 more than they attempt themselves. That’s a drastic margin, and it will play a huge role because open 3PA inherently hold a high expected points per possession. And the open attempts that the Lakers do receive are diminished because of their poor three-point shooters.

As for opponent eFG% on open + wide open FGA, the Mavericks are due for some luck because their opponents are sinking them at a higher rate than expected. On the other hand, the Lakers are struggling to survive this season while being beneficiaries of tremendous luck. Opponents are simply missing shots they should make against the Lakers, but that will even out eventually.

Now, underlying long-term positive regression doesn’t mean it will occur immediately in the next game. However, when paired with the fact that this Dallas squad is far more talented and they are at home, it’s a great spot to back them. The Lakers just gave up 134 points to the abysmal Charlotte Hornets – their defense will be absolutely shredded here. I don’t see their anemic offense being able to keep pace in the slightest, so take the Mavericks here.

Betting Trends

  • Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall
  • Mavericks are 4-10-2 ATS in their last 16 home games
  • Lakers are 0-4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Reggie Bullock & Dorian Finney-Smith Defense

For the Lakers to keep this game within striking distance, they absolutely need a vintage offensive performance from LeBron. Not only do they need at least 30 points, but he must routinely create for his teammates. Therefore, Dallas will cruise if Bullock and Finney-Smith can slow down LeBron and make him work for every shot. They cannot allow him to attack the rim; forcing him into jump shots will heavily reduce his expected production.

Westbrook Efficiency & Playmaking

Los Angeles has kept afloat with Westbrook facilitating, but they require him to once again become a scorer due to Davis’ injury. That means smart shot selection and solid efficiency though, not shooting recklessly. If Westbrook can provide 17-20 points by attacking the rim, then the Lakers can win the bench minutes and not allow the Mavericks to run away with the game. His playmaking is crucial too, because the Lakers are filled with players who need others to create their shot.

Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant

Dallas Mavericks Starting Lineup

PG: Luka Doncic
SG: Spencer Dinwiddie
SF: Tim Hardaway Jr
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
C: Christian Wood

Key Injuries

Los Angeles Lakers Injuries: Anthony Davis (O), Thomas Bryant (Q), Juan Toscano-Anderson (Q)

Dallas Mavericks Injuries: Dorian Finney-Smith (Q), Reggie Bullock (Q), Maxi Kleber (O), Josh Green (Q), Kemba Walker (Q), Jaden Hardy (Q)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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