The Mavericks suffered their second consecutive loss on Thursday when they went down 103-121 to the Warriors. Dennis Smith Jr had 22 points and three assists, while Dirk Nowitzki had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double. They are now 17-38 and dead last in the Western Conference standings. Their record is the worst in the NBA.
The Lakers have won four in a row after they beat the Thunder for the second time in a week. The 106-81 victory came on the back of 20 points from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and 19 from Brandon Ingram. They now boast a record of 23-31, and sit in 11th place in the west, comfortably ahead of the Grizzlies in 12th and well below the Jazz in tenth. They have won eight of their past ten games.
Three keys to the game
Lakers’ form - The Lakers’ terrific recent form has come largely on the back of an improved offence. Their offensive rating is 102.4 for the season, but in the past ten games has improved to 108.6. Their defense has also improved slightly in this time, as they are allowing just over two points less per 100 possessions.
Points in the paint - For all of their struggles this season, the Mavericks have allowed the fewest points in the paint per game in the league at just 40.3. In contrast, the Lakers 53.3 points in the paint per game is comfortably the most in the NBA.
New-look Lakers - The Lakers have lost Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson, both of whom had been useful players this season. They have, however, added Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye, the latter of whom came fifth in MVP voting last season. At his best he is a star player, but he has had a well-publicized fall from grace this season - how will he fit in on the Lakers team?
Matchup to watch
Julius Randle vs Dirk Nowitzki - The matchup at power forward will be an interesting one between two unique big men. Nowitzki is a league great, but is heading rapidly towards the end of his career. This season he is averaging just 12.2 points, a career low, and 5.7 rebounds, also a career low. Randle hasn’t improved his numbers significantly from last season, but is showing improved efficiency on his way to 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists a night.
Dallas Mavericks predicted starting lineup
PG - J.J. Barea | SG - Dennis Smith Jr | SF - Wesley Matthews | PF - Dirk Nowitzki | C - Dwight Powell
Los Angeles Lakers predicted starting lineup
PG - Isaiah Thomas | SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SF - Brandon Ingram | PF - Julius Randle | C - Brook Lopez
In his long and illustrious career, Nowitzki has played the Lakers an enormous 65 times. In these games, he has averaged 21.4 points, 9.5 rebounds (a career high), and 2.4 assists.
When these two sides met earlier in the season, Randle played a huge part in the Lakers’ overtime win. Despite having seven turnovers, he was one of the better players on the floor, shooting 9-15 on the way to 23 points while also grabbing 15 boards.
The Lakers are slight underdogs in this game, meaning there is some great value to be had. They have been given a three point head start against the Mavericks, and should be able to cover this comfortably. Take the Lakers at the line.
It’s hard to go past the Lakers' recent form when looking at this matchup. They are 8-2 in their past ten games, while the Mavericks are 2-8. The recent trades will have some effect on the Los Angeles side, but they have kept the most important players on their team and should still be able to continue their form.
Ingram is having a terrific season and should put in another strong performance, while Randle will look to attack the ageing Nowitzki as much as possible on the offensive end.
The Lakers will be too strong in this game, and will run out 105-98 winners on the road.
The game will be broadcast locally on FSSW and SPECSN. Tip-off is at 8pm ET.