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Mavericks vs. Lakers Preview: 3 things to watch as Dallas takes on Los Angeles

Dallas head to LA with a season sweep on the line

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks hit the road for the first time since New Year’s Day to take on the Los Angeles Lakers. LA is in a bit of a rough patch, winning only four of their last 10, but they are coming off a big win against the young and surging Oklahoma City Thunder.

Dallas has some good and confoundingly bad moments over their extended homestand. After Luka Doncic became incandescent in December while Kyrie Irving was nursing an injured foot, Kyrie returned the favor, catching fire over January while Doncic was in and out of the lineup with a variety of bumps and bruises. As they inch closer to full strength, they’ll hopefully be able to continue to put strings of wins together.

Oil and water

Through 41 games, Dallas is 24-17 and sixth in the West. A heckuva lot better than they looked last season, but also still a team with an unknowable ceiling. Dallas has played 23 different starting lineups in their opening 41 games – the most in franchise history – and it’s been hard to get a bead on exactly what this team can do with consistency.

However, with half the season in the rearview, teams are going to start to stratify. The contenders will coast to the playoffs, perhaps jostling for homecourt advantage while the rest of the postseason-bound teams try to keep their head above the play-in. Dallas finally got their “signature win” when they handed a loss to the West-leading Timberwolves, but have struggled somewhat with the “business as usual” wins, losing to JV squads from Memphis and New Orleans. Now, going against a desperate and flawed Lakers team, its time to see if Dallas will be duking it out in the gutter with the 7th and 8th seeds, or if we’ll be talking about who they’ll be hosting in the first round.

Tilt the scale

There were no louder rabble-rousers when Kyrie was yet to sign his extension over the offseason than Lakers fans. Some seemed to think it was predestined that Irving would be Joining LeBron James in Lakers gold.

Turns out, not really. There’s little doubt Kyrie and LeBron share if nothing else a deep respect for each other as players after winning the Cleveland Cavaliers’ only NBA Championship together, but there’s even less doubt that they’re really like to beat the other one when they play.

Since going their separate ways, Irving has an unfortunate 4-11 record against the King. One of those wins came this year when Dallas bested LA back in November. The Mavs are 2-0 against LA this season (winning by a total of five points) and have a chance to sweep the Lakers on Wednesday. With any luck, they’ll help Kyrie build back that head-to-head record.

With boards wide open

Dallas’ wins and losses have been highly correlated with how well they rebound this season. It’s not great, then, that they allow opponents to grab the third-most rebounds in the league, averaging 46.4 per game.

You’d think a team with Anthony Davis would be in prime position to exploit this weakness, but over the last 10 games, the Lakers are averaging the fewest rebounds in the league – just 40.1 per game.

With Dereck Lively back in the lineup for the Mavs, they can hopefully turn that weakness into… well, not a strength, but at the very least a dead heat.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on ABC at 7:30 CST.