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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks host the Lakers

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The slumping Mavericks look to knock off the Lakers and their six game win streak.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers will battle for the fourth and final time this season, though key members from both teams could be absent. For Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis will miss his sixth straight game with right knee “soreness”, and Anthony Davis is listed as questionable for the Lakers.

Los Angeles leads the season series 2-1, and most recently won fairly easily with the Mavericks failing to shoot above 36 percent while giving up 54 points in the paint.

Here’s what to watch for Friday night:

Physicality

Without their 7’3’’ paint-patrolling big man, the Mavericks have provided little defensive resistance, most notably on the glass. In the five games Porzingis has missed, the Mavericks have snared only 47.9 percent of the rebounds per game, ranking 26th in the league. In the games before 12/31, the Mavericks grabbed 51.3 percent of the rebounds, fifth best in the league. Even further, in this five game stretch, Dallas has the league’s worst opponent offensive rebounding rate at 33.5 percent. And in the games leading up to 12/31, Dallas ranked sixth in the league with a 25.7 percent opponent offensive rebounding rate.

Dallas has also struggled tremendously to keep opponents out of the paint. In the last five games the opposition has scored a league-high 56.4 points in the paint. The Mavericks could catch a break with Davis questionable, but the team still has to contend with LeBron James, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.

Late game execution

Wednesday night’s final six minutes was a horror show:

And it hasn’t been much better the entire season:

Maybe it’s the youth and inexperience, or maybe it’s the style of play that throws the Mavericks off when teams trap Luka Doncic late in the game. Whatever it is the Mavericks have to figure it out. It starts with Doncic who can’t settle for step-back threes whether he’s getting calls or not. And it trickles down to players like Dorian Finney-Smith who have to make the right play without turning it over.

Which guard steps up?

It seems like a revolving door in who has a big game among Seth Curry, Delon Wright and Jalen Brunson, but the Mavericks desperately need another guard to alleviate some play-making responsibility off of Doncic. While Tim Hardaway Jr. helps knock down shots, the Mavericks need another creator, especially down the stretch when teams zero in on Doncic and force other players to beat them. In the Mavericks lone win against the Lakers, Wright recorded 17 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals while shooting 7-of-12. Dallas will need a similar performance from one of the three to fend of the Lakers at home.

How to watch

The game tips off at 8:45 CT and can be watched on ESPN.

Here’s a pre-game podcast too with Harrison Faigen, Editor in Chief of Silver Screen and Roll.