The Los Angeles Lakers look to extend their three-game winning streak as they host the Dallas Mavericks tonight. The Lakers are coming off a nice home win Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns that saw six players score in double figures, with Nick Young leading the team with 22 points.
Even though the season is young, the Lakers have beaten quality opponents like the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and the Golden State Warriors, which has led to a strong belief that future success is coming sooner rather than later.
The Dallas Mavericks come into Staples Center and will try to spoil the Lakers winning streak. Dallas began the season with five straight losses but earned their first victory of the season Sunday night after beating the Milwaukee Bucks, 86-75, in overtime. Tonight, they look to score their second win of the young season.
With Deron Williams out due to a strained calf, and Devin Harris having yet to suit up this season, the Mavericks will be even more reliant on J.J. Barea. Long a thorn in the Lakers side, Barea has mainly been a spark plug off the bench for Dallas, averaging 17.2 points per game, but he will need to step up even more.
Matthews has struggled to shoot the ball in the early going, averaging 13.2 points per game and shooting just under 30 percent from the field. Additionally, Seth Curry will likely take on a larger role and Stephen’s younger brother is capable of huge scoring outbursts in short periods of time.
The Lakers backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young has played well this season, especially Young, whose defense has been admired by both his teammates and head coach Luke Walton. Russell leads the team in both scoring and assists, averaging 15.9 points and 4.9 assists per game, respectively. Both Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson have been excellent coming off the bench ranking second and fourth on the Lakers in scoring.
The Mavericks are also dealing with injuries in the frontcourt as franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki will miss tonight’s game as well meaning Dwight Powell will likely step into the power forward role next to Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
Barnes, who signed with Dallas during the off-season after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Warriors, is averaging a career-high 20.8 points per game, including a career-best 34 points in Sunday’s win over the Bucks. Although Bogut does not offer much offensively, he has made his presence known by averaging 11.4 rebounds per game and altering plenty of shots at the rim defensively. Dallas could also go small and play Barnes at power forward for stretches as well.
The Lakers frontcourt of Luol Deng, Julius Randle, and Timofey Mozgov has played well early in the season. Randle has been a mismatch for defenders this season; he’s too fast for opposing forwards and too strong when he is switched onto a smaller defender. Look for him to take advantage of his strength against the Dallas big men.
Deng has not had the offensive numbers (7.4 points per game) he’s accustomed to, but he has brought veteran leadership to a young team that wants to be better, and it looks like it’s paying off. Mozgov has done a good job of patrolling the paint for the Lakers, and he will be counted to do so as the Mavericks play quick guards in Barea and Curry. Due to Larry Nance Jr.’s absence because of a concussion look for Thomas Robinson to get minutes in his place.
Keys to Victory
As good as the Lakers have been scoring the ball, they are also averaging 17 turnovers per game, worst in the NBA. Those mistakes lead to easy baskets for the opposition. D’Angelo Russell in particular, must do a better job of taking care of the ball as he leads the team with three turnovers per game.
Bench Maintains Hot Start:
The Lakers boast the best bench in the NBA, averaging 50.6 points per game. Clarkson, Williams and co. have been able to do a good job of scoring the ball while playing solid defense. The Lakers need the bench to continue their play to have further success throughout the season, but replacing what Nance brought could prove to be difficult.
Play With Defensive Intensity Throughout Game:
The Lakers must continue their better defensive play as of late. They are currently allowing opponents to score 108.4 points per game (23rd in the NBA) and shoot 46.4 percent from the field (28th), though they also lead the NBA in pace so there are more scoring opportunities for both teams. They must lower that opposing field goal percentage, but they have been excellent at guarding the three-point line which must continue.
Los Angeles Lakers (4-3) Vs. Dallas Mavericks (1-5)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 8, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Mavericks Starting Lineup:
PG: J.J. Barea
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Dwight Powell
C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: Justin Anderson, Seth Curry, Salah Mejri, Dorian Finney-Smith
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Tarik Black