After losing back-to-back games against the Warriors and Spurs, the Lakers rekindled some life into the early part of this season when they got a close victory at home on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks. Tonight the Lakers look to get their second win in a row, as well as their first road win of the 2013-2014 season when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.
The depth of the Lakers continues to be the highlight of this season so far; the bench scored 48 points, and got a spark from Nick Young who was replaced by Xavier Henry in the starting. As for Henry, he was able to come into the starting lineup and lead the Lakers in scoring with 18 points.
The Lakers won three of their four meetings with the Mavericks last season, losing their only matchup on opening night. The Mavericks come in with a re-tooled roster with more youth and athleticism, and are looking to make the playoffs after failing to last season.
Frontcourt: Of course the standout player from the Mavericks frontcourt is their future hall of fame power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk took some time to recover from lingering injuries at the beginning of last season which really kept him from playing at an elite level. He is now restored to full health, and should be expected to resemble his old self. This off-season the Mavericks acquired veteran center Samuel Dalembert to play alongside Dirk and be that interior presence that they lacked in the starting lineup last season. Shawn Marion is in Dallas for another season, and is always counted on for his versatility, and ability to play multiple positions.
It’s going to be key for the Lakers big men to limit the activity and energy of Shawn Marion, as he is continually counted on to be a catalyst for this Mavericks team.
Backcourt: As for the Mavericks backcourt, they made two big pick-ups during free agency when they signed Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis. Calderon’s play-making paired with his ability to shoot the ball allows the Mavericks to have quality spacing when Dirk operates in isolated scenarios. As for Ellis, he has the ability to play both the point guard and shooting guard position, and can become a dangerous scorer if he develops a rhythm throughout the game. The Lakers also have to be mindful of Vince Carter coming off the bench. He has a knack for getting hot quickly whenever he matches up against the Lakers.
Defending the likes of a Monta Ellis is going to be a tall order for this Lakers backcourt. With the lack of athleticism in the starting lineup, the Mavericks may look to make it priority of theirs to push the ball in transition and attack the Lakers off the pick-and-roll.
Keys To Lakers’ Victory:
Get Off To A Good Start: The Lakers starting lineup has been very poor at starting off games with the right energy, which is likely what prompted head coach Mike D’Antoni to place Xavier Henry in the first unit ahead of Nick Young. This team found out quickly that when you go on the road, you have to set the tone early if you want to compete for win. In their first away game against the Warriors the Lakers learned the hard way, as there lack of effort early on led to the Warriors running them out of the gym.
Defending The Pick-And-Roll: Whenever the Lakers face up against the Mavericks the one consistent predicament they encounter is having to defend multiple pick-and-roll combinations. Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki alone is a nightmare matchup in this situation, and having Monta Ellis on their roster will only make defense that much harder for the Lakers.
I think it is going to be key that the Lakers explore their small lineups in a matchup like this one. Their athleticism and youth must be highlighted tonight if they plan to win.
Continued Production From The Reserves: The Lakers bench continues to be a key component of their success early on, and it seems as if this going to have to be the trend throughout this season if they plan on having any chance at a playoff birth. Through four games the Lakers bench ranks first in scoring (55 points per game) and rebounding (26 rebounds per game) among second units, and fourth in assists (10 assists per game). Needless to say, it’s going to take this type of effort from the reserves to gut out victories on the road.
Atlanta Hawks (1-1) at Los Angeles Lakers (1-2)
5:30 PM PST, November 4, 2013
American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet & NBA TV
Radio: 710 ESPNLA
Mavericks Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Samuel Dalembert
Key Reserves: SF Vince Carter PF Dejuan Blair PG Devin Harris
VIDEO: What Did Pau Gasol Have To Say About What He’d Like To See In Tonight’s Game?