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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks visit the Lakers

The Mavs have their first battle with the new look L.A. Lakers Wednesday night at Staples Center.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (2-5) head to Los Angeles to face the Lakers (2-5), in their first matchup of the season. It’s two teams still trying to find their identity early in the season. The Mavs are trying to snap a four game losing streak, three of those losses coming on the road.

The Lakers have a wildly new look from last season — most notably adding LeBron James, but also adding some veterans in the mix with some promising young talent. Here’s what you should be watching for in the late night west coast battle:

The DSJ-Doncic Duo

Over the last two games, the dynamic pair of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic have combined for 94 points. It’s still resulted in two losses against two formidable opponents. But maybe we shouldn’t be looking at the win-loss total at this point. Big picture, seeing both of the two young cornerstones finding ways to be effective side by side are wins in and of themselves.

DSJ and Doncic will play opposite some other budding stars in Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Look for the Mavs pair to build on the momentum of the last few games, for an exciting back and forth between the next generation of the NBA.

Is defense even a thing?

The Los Angeles Lakers are 29th in the league in giving up over 122 points per game, and the Mavericks don’t fare much better, letting opponents score 117 per game (21st in the league). The Lakers like to play fast, so expect the Mavs to try and keep up pushing the ball.

Neither team has found much of a defensive identity early in the season, so it shouldn’t be expected that either team finds it Wednesday night. And both teams like to chuck it up from deep, with the Lakers attempting the ninth most in the league (32 attempts per game) and the Mavs second in the league with over 37 attempts per game. It should be a high scoring affair at the Staples Center, as both teams are in the top ten in points per game this season and haven’t found many ways to slow other teams down. All that’s to say it should be entertaining at the very least.

The King moves West

This is the first time Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks face LeBron James in the Western conference. King James is averaging 27.6 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in seven games this season. Even if the Lakers haven’t sorted things out early, with a strange blend of vets and young players finding their footing, James hasn’t taken his foot off the gas much early in his time in a stacked conference.

This will also be Luka Doncic’s first matchup opposite James. It’s possible there will be stretches where they play opposite each other tonight, which will always be notable. There will be plenty of intriguing one-on-one battles in Los Angeles Wednesday night, but keep a close eye on the rookie facing the best player in the game. One way or other, it’s sure to be one for the memory bank for Wonder Boy.

How to Watch

Tip off is set for 9:30 CT, and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest, the Fox Sports Go app, or NBA LeaguePass.