The Los Angeles Lakers are facing the Dallas Mavericks, hoping to keep their Play-In Tournament hopes alive despite LeBron James’ absence.
James will miss the Tuesday clash after rolling his ankle in the loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The game will come too soon for Anthony Davis to make his comeback from a foot injury, as the forward continues working on his conditioning.
Sterling Brown, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Theo Pinson will be unavailable on the Mavericks’ side.
The Lakers will fall out of the Play-In part of the standings if they lose to Dallas, dipping behind the San Antonio Spurs who have a better winning percentage in conference games. But they are squaring off with a team that has gone 10-4 in March, tied for the NBA’s fifth-best record.
During that stretch, the Mavericks allowed just 107 points per game, a top-5 effort in the league. Dallas smothers opponent offenses, particularly along the perimeter, and doesn’t commit plenty of turnovers — meaning the Lakers need an efficient night on the offensive side of the ball, making smart plays and executing them well to put up a fight against Luka Doncic and Co.
Taking advantage of open looks from beyond the arc will play a major factor in deciding the winner. Three of Dallas’ starters have made 39.5% or more of their 3s in March: Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Dorian Finney-Smith.
But the Lakers shot the ball well as a team during this month — their 37.3% from downtown nearly ranked in the top-10 in the league.
Keeping it up in addition to hurting the Mavericks in the paint would make for a solid game plan for L.A. Dallas ranks in the bottom-5 in both steals and blocks, which should encourage the Lakers to attack the basket often and with confidence — particularly as they won’t be able to count on James’ drives into the paint.
The circumstances are making the clash with Dallas all the more difficult. Unfortunately, as head coach Frank Vogel admitted, they barely have any room for error left.
“Time is running out. We got to get some wins,” Vogel said.
Lakers (31-43) vs. Mavericks (46-29)
4:30 p.m. PT, March 29, 2022
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Malik Monk
SF: Austin Reaves
PF: Wenyen Gabriel
C: Dwight Howard
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Stanley Johnson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington, D.J. Augustin
Projected Mavericks Starting Lineup:
PG: Jalen Brunson
SG: Luka Doncic
SF: Reggie Bullock
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
C: Dwight Powell
Key Reserves: Maxi Kleber, Davis Bertans, Spencer Dinwiddie
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