The Lakers have won two straight on the road and are looking to cap their three-game road trip with a win tonight. The return of Nick Young has given the Lakers offense a lift, and the Los Angeles will need to put up points in bunches against a high octane Mavericks team that leads the league in scoring at 109.3 points per game.
Frontcourt: In the midst of his 16th campaign, all with the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki continues to be a walking mismatch. His range and shooting touch as a seven footer is unmatched and he really paved the way for stretch fours to find a home in this league. In just 27.5 minutes a game, Nowitzki is averaging nearly twenty points and is doing so on video game percentages at 54.7% from the field and 44.4% from deep. Carlos Boozer lacks the length to really slow Nowitzki down and will have to look to attack him on the other end of the floor.
Tyson Chandler is back in a Mavs jersey and has had a resurgent season with the team he won a championship with in 2011. He is averaging a double-double in limited minutes and is shooting an unsustainable 70.3% from the field. Chandler’s offense mostly consists of put-backs and dunks, but the defensive end is where he really makes his presence felt. He is a true defensive anchor that can erase his teammate’s mistakes and contest shots at the rim. Jordan Hill has been active on the glass and will have to continue to be on point tonight as he faces one of the best rebounders in the league.
At the three is the Mavericks’ main summer acquisition, Chandler Parsons. Mavs owner Mark Cuban spent a pretty penny on the swingman, who has become the Mavs’ highest paid player at nearly $15 million a year. Suffice to say, he isn’t LeBron James nor Carmelo Anthony. But Parsons is a fine young player himself and a quintessential glue guy. He can do a little bit of everything and is both a capable shooter and passer. Though he’s averaging just 2.5 assists per game thus far, that number should creep up over the course of the season as he gets more and more acquainted with the offense.
Backcourt: Jameer Nelson gets the start at point guard for the Mavs. After enjoying several strong years with the Magic, Nelson has regressed significantly. He struggles to score the ball efficiently and brings little more than good ball security to the table. His backcourt mate, Monta Ellis, is far and away the Mavs’ best perimeter player. Before joining the Mavs last season, Ellis had a reputation for being an inefficient and selfish player. He has since shed that label and has become more scrupulous with his shot selection. He is shooting a stellar 48.2% from the field this year, which is his best percentage over the last seven seasons. Ellis possesses extraordinary quickness and overall scoring savvy. He simply has a knack for getting buckets and the Lakers should deploy their lengthy defenders to try to slow him down.
J.J. Barea will back up both guard spots and may see minutes down the stretch if Jameer Nelson’s struggles continue. Barea is a diminutive combo guard that will keep defenses on their toes. He is the ideal third guard for any team to have in its back pocket and is very familiar with the Mavs, having spent five other seasons with the team.
Keys to Victory:
Make Nowitzki Work: Dirk Nowitzki will get points and he will get them in bunches. That said, the Lakers need to force Nowitzki to make tough jump shots, despite the fadeaway being his patented shot. Open drives to the lane will spell doom for the Lakers because unlike other big men, Nowitzki is an elite free throw shooter, and a hard foul at the rim won’t save the two points. On the other end of the floor, the Lakers need to feed their big men often so that Nowitzki will be forced to expend energy on defense.
Keep Tyson Chandler off the Glass: Averaging 12.4 rebounds in just 26.6 minutes over his last five games, Chandler is an animal on the glass. He is also always one of the league leaders in offensive rebounds. Jordan Hill and Ed Davis will need to match Chandler’s hustle throughout the game to limit his rebounding, especially on the offensive end where he can create additional possessions.
Find Balance Offensively: Kobe Bryant has taken a lot of heat this season for jacking up shots at high volume with low efficiency. Nick Young’s presence in the lineup should alleviate some of the pressure on him to shoot so many times a game and the Lakers play their best ball when they have a balanced offense. Kobe’s most efficient game of the season came against the Hawks earlier this week when he took just 18 shots and his teammates also seemed to be able to find their stride in that game with five Lakers scoring in double figures in the contest.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 9.5-point underdogs against the Mavericks according to Sportsbook.ag.
Los Angeles Lakers (3-9) at Dallas Mavericks (9-3)
5:30 PM PST, November 21, 2014
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Mavericks Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: PG: J.J. Barea, SF: Al-Farouq Aminu, PF: Brandan Wright
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Jordan Hill
Kobe, ‘Things Go Good, It’s Us. Things Go Bad, It’s Me’