With a roster filled with young players that were drafted high in the 1st round, and the most sought-after Head Coach of the offseason in Luke Walton, there are happy days ahead for the Lakers. The only question left is, with a 4-3 record and solid wins over Hawks, Rockets and Warriors, are the happy days already here?
Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks are riding high into this game after an overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks...
Okay, it may not be comparable. In fact, the Mavericks are almost the polar opposite of the Lakers in every way. Their roster is older, their coach is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the league, and many are concerned about the future of the team because of the recent lack of talented young players.
That being said, it’s not going to be easy for the Lakers to get the win if the Mavericks can pull off these three steps.
Crash the defensive boards
The Lakers are a top 5 team this season in terms of grabbing offensive rebounds and turning them into second-chance points. That’s by design, as Julius Randle and Timofey Mosgov focus on getting their team more chances to score than the other team.
They key to beating the Lakers is getting physical with their front court without putting them on the line. Don’t mistake these guys for DeAndre Jordan, they will take advantage of their shots at the free throw line.
Win the turnover battle
Like all talented but young teams, the Lakers are frenetic. They are top 5 in the league in steals on the defensive end, but also lead the league in turnovers on the offensive end (in the bad way).
If the Mavericks can play up tight on D’Angelo Russell and get the ball out of his hands, that should lead to plenty of opportunities for the Mavericks to run the other way on a fast break. If they can be mindful of their passing lanes on offense, they can limit the damage the Lakers can do.
Make them shoot
If there’s one thing the Lakers don’t do well, it’s shoot the 3-pointer (they rank just below the Mavs and just ahead of the Nets in 3-point field goal percentage). Almost nobody on the roster has been able to do it consistently this season, and a lot of the guys on their roster (Randle, Mosgov, Luol Deng, Larry Nance Jr.) are never going to be able to do it.
The Mavericks will need to be crafty to keep Russell out of the lane in this game, but accomplishing that will force the Lakers to play to their weaknesses instead of their strengths.
How to watch
It’s #stayuplatebasketball, as the game will start at 9:30 CT. You can catch it on FSSW in the DFW area and on NBA League Pass otherwise.