The Mavericks and Lakers are perhaps the two teams most changed by trades at the deadline. The updated Lakers roster looks revitalized and has gone 9-5, but Dallas, on the other hand, has an inverted 5-9 record, beset by injuries to their two All-Stars and drama swirling around playing time and rotations. Head coach Jason Kidd’s flippant post-game press remarks have only added fuel to the fire.
After battling tooth and nail against the lowly Spurs just to draw to an even .500 on the season, the Mavericks head to LA looking to claw their way back up the Western Conference standings, which remain tantalizingly close, no matter how stuck in the mud Dallas has looked of late.
The Cavalry is questionable
Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Markieff Morris were all out against San Antonio. That’s a lot of missing offense. The Mavs that did take the floor played downright admirably – and, in fact, did something never before done in Mavericks history when five different players scored 20+ points. It was inspirationally egalitarian.
But, as fun as it’s been to watch Jaden Hardy and Josh Green get to stretch their wings a bit, Dallas is in desperate need of reinforcements. Doncic has already been ruled out, and the remainder of the Mavericks who missed Wednesday’s game remains questionable. Also, add JaVale McGee to that list of questionable players for good measure. Maybe if Dallas just keeps running as fast and hard as they can without looking down, they can avoid the Wile E. Coyote-esque fate that this cartoon franchise always seems on the verge of this season.
For what it’s worth, the Lakers will likely be without LeBron James and Anthony Davis; a blow to their talent level that saw them drop a game to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
We’re the paint scorers now
It’s almost not worth looking past the Laker’s last game for trends, as the lineup they’ll be putting on the floor has no history. What we can see from the sample size of one game, though, is that this reduced LA squad is extremely vulnerable inside.
The Rockets, one of the worst teams in the league (in general, but also) when it comes to scoring in the paint and restricted area poured in a whopping 78!!! points against Los Angeles. With their bevy of big men healthy, Maxi Kleber, Christian Wood, and Dwight Powell (who is coming off a perfect 8-for9, 22-point game) should make it their goal to inflict as much pain down low as possible. Same goes for Hardy, who has shown no fear of putting the ball on the floor and making a move to the rim.
These two teams last faced each other less than three weeks ago, and the 27-point lead that Dallas gave up in the process of losing was the biggest lead surrendered in the league this year. That record mercifully lasted only about a week, as the Celtics let the Nets come back from 28 down.
Nevertheless, while neither of these teams will be at full strength, any player on the floor in a Dallas uniform should have a bad taste in their mouth. That Dallas and LA are so close in the standings is all the more reason to bear down and pull out this win.
How to watch
You can broadcast or stream the game on NBA TV at 9:30 CST.