The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are two teams headed in different directions this season, as after starting the season 10-10 the Lakers have since gone 9-34 and hold the worst record in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, started off the season as the worst team in the West, but have picked up their play in recent weeks and now at 26-36 are just 1.5 games out of the eighth seed in the West.
Sunday night was another tough loss for the Lakers, as they fought back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to tie the game against the New Orleans Pelicans. But they could not complete the comeback as their wound up falling 105-97 for their seventh straight loss.
They look to snap that streak Tuesday night when they travel to the Mavericks to take on a Dallas team that has won four of its last five games.
After waiving veteran point guard Derron Williams, Dallas has elected to go with youth in their backcourt, starting rookie Yogi Ferrell and Stephen Curry’s younger brother Seth Curry in their backcourt.
Curry has played at an extremely high level in recent weeks, as the 26-year-old is averaging 21.9 points on 57.6 percent shooting in his last seven games. This season is the first true NBA opportunity he has gotten, and he has made the most of it averaging 12.9 points on 48.5 percent shooting and 43.2 percent from three-point range.
Ferrell, who is a rookie out of Indiana, made the most out of a 10-day contract with Dallas and is now the team’s starting point guard. In 16 games with the Mavericks, he has averaged 12.2 points and 4.9 assists.
His quickness is something the Lakers and point guard D’Angelo Russell will have trouble defending, so the Lakers help defense will need to be present Tuesday night.
Russell has improved his play on the offensive end of the floor since the All-Star break and trade of Lou Williams. In five games since the break Russell has averaged 20.6 points and 5.8 assists, so look for him to continue to attack on the offensive end of the floor. The same is true for Jordan Clarkson off the bench, as he has averaged 16.6 points since the break.
Tuesday night could be a milestone night for Mavericks future Hall of Fame power forward Dirk Nowitzki, as the 38-year-old is just 20 points away from becoming the sixth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points.
In what could be his last NBA season, Nowitzki is still playing at a high level as he is coming off an 18 point and 12 rebound performance Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 36 games this season.
He is joined in the frontcourt by a couple solid free agent acquisitions in the last couple seasons, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews.
Barnes is having a career year and is one of the candidates for most improved player in the league. He is shattering his previous career-high in scoring of 11.7 points per game by averaging 20.1 points in addition to 5.1 rebounds.
Matthews is second on the team in scoring behind Barnes at 14.9 points per game. He is a spot up shooter so putting someone with length like Brandon Ingram on him could help the Lakers defensively.
Dallas’ acquisition of Nerlens Noel at the NBA trade deadline was quietly one of the better moves of the year. In five games since coming over to the Mavericks Noel has averaged 9.8 points and 8.0 rebounds off the bench. He also is a stalwart in the paint for Dallas defensively.
Three Keys To Victory:
Protect The Ball:
The Lakers are one of the worst teams in the league in the turnover department, averaging 14.8 per game which ranks 25th. Dallas is the best team in the NBA at taking care of the ball, as they average just 11.2 turnovers per game, so the Lakers will need to take care of the ball if they want to have a chance Tuesday night.
Communicate On Defense:
Russell is not quick enough to stick with Ferrell defensively, so it will be important for him and his teammates to communicate on pick-and-roles and switches, or else he will get to the basket and create easy shots either for himself or his teammates all game.
Play All 48 Minutes:
In the last few games, and all season really, the Lakers have been in games right until the end but have not been able to close. That is expected with a team that is as young and inexperienced as the Lakers, but it takes all 48 minutes to win an NBA game, so the Lakers have to continue to play hard down the stretch.
Los Angeles Lakers (19-44) Vs. Dallas Mavericks (26-36)
5:30 P.M. PST, March 5, 2017
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PG: Yogi Ferrell
SG: Seth Curry
SF: Wesley Matthews
PF: Harrison Barnes
C: Dirk Nowitzki
Key Reserves: Nerlens Noel, Quinn Cook, Devin Harris, Dorian Finney-Smith, Salah Mejri
Projected Lakers Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Tarik Black
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Corey Brewer, Luol Deng