The 2019-20 Dallas coming out party happened on national television nearly a month ago as the Mavericks fell to the Lakers at home in an overtime thriller. Since that game, both the Mavericks and the Lakers have taken advantage of relatively weak schedules to pile up victories. The Lakers are currently riding a 10 game win streak while the Mavericks have won six of their last seven following a mid-November slip up to both Boston and the Knicks.
Here’s some things to look out for as the two teams collide Sunday afternoon.
Dallas needs to get Kristaps Porzingis going early and often
After a frustrating 0-8 shooting performance against the Suns, expect Dallas to get Porzingis an easy look or two to start against the Lakers. As we’ve said often here, when Porzingis has it going offensively, it’s usually the result of getting the ball on the move towards the basket.
Dallas needs Porzingis against LA and while he had a respectable 16 points and nine rebounds in their earlier match up, KP was a total non-factor in the fourth quarter as the game slipped away from the Mavericks. Patience is still the order of the day for Porzingis and should be all season, but if there’s a time for him to have a big game, it’s against the Lakers.
Who guards LeBron James and Anthony Davis?
James destroyed Dallas in November with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists. Dorian Finney-Smith and, strangely, Tim Hardaway Jr. saw most of their time matched up with LeBron. While DFS should draw the assignment again, Dallas should not use Hardaway unless there are no other options. Hopefully, Justin Jackson or even Delon Wright gets a chance first. No one can really stop LeBron with how he’s playing these days, but some resistance would be nice tomorrow.
The Anthony Davis match up poses more questions than answers. While Powell has a hard time guarding any sort of post up player, the three man line up data with Powell, Luka Doncic, and Porzingis is boasting an absurd 146.5 offensive rating in 75 minutes. That’s clearly a small sample, but judging from the past several games the Mavericks are leaning into offense over defense in a real way. That means while Maxi Kleber’s better defense on Davis is nice, the line up data with Powell on the floor on offense outweighs anything the Mavericks lose defensively.
The Tim Hardaway Jr. Show
While a lot of the attention is rightfully on Luka Doncic’s statistical achievements, the secret sauce to Dallas’ recent stretch of play has been Tim Hardaway Jr. The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks pointed out that compared to Seth Curry, Jalen Brunson, and Delon Wright, Hardaway’s first, second, and third instincts are to shoot and score. That plays really well with someone like Doncic who repeatedly finds Hardaway for clean looks.
The results are hard to argue with. Over his last 10 games, he’s chipping in nearly 15 points a game on 44 percent from three and 46 percent over all from the floor. It’s a little wild to consider a player many considered a Kristaps Porzingis tax as an x-factor for a possibly playoff team like the Mavericks, but if he has a solid game against the Lakers, Dallas has a good chance of coming away with a major road victory.
How to watch
The game tips off at 3:00 pm CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass. If you’re wondering why the Mavericks play an afternoon game for the second straight week, remember this:
Wondering why NBA would schedule Mavs-Rockets for Sunday afternoon tip that partially conflicts with a Cowboys game? It’s a prime-time game in Europe and the Middle East. Those Sunday showcases get audiences in 2M range, per NBA, and I’d bet Luka Doncic will draw more Euro eyes.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 24, 2019