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3 things to watch as the Mavericks face the Lakers

After two strong wins over playoff teams, the Mavs should get an an easy win against the Lakers.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Mavericks look to wrap up a four-game regular-season sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs took the first two games by a comfortable margin (coincidentally, 12 points in both games), but absolutely wrecked the young LA team during the third, setting records in the process. The final 49-point margin of victory was the worst loss in Lakers history and the third-largest win for the Mavericks franchise.

While tonight’s game may not be one for the history books, nothing that’s happened to either team in the subsequent six weeks would suggest a reversal of fortune. The basketball gods are notoriously fickle, but everything points to a relatively easy win for the Mavericks this evening (if Dallas does take tonight’s game, it’ll be their 14th consecutive win over the Lakers).

The Lakers are not good at basketball

Although the Mavericks have definitely been fun and maybe even pretty good recently (more on that shortly), their likely victory tonight is largely due to the fact that the Lakers are really struggling this year. They’re not the worst team in the league (the Brooklyn Nets have worked very hard to ensure no one else has a shot at that title), but they have the worst record in the Western Conference, as well as the worst point differential.

They had some good wins early in the season, including over Golden State, Houston, and OKC, but that proved unsustainable. Luke Walton’s team has struggled on both ends of the court, with none of their young prospects (including Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram) quite panning out yet. Last month, the team sent Lou Williams, arguably their best player in terms of scoring contributions and pretty much every advanced metric, to the Rockets in a trade for Corey Brewer.

To add to their woes, tonight the team may be missing Larry Nance, Jr. (wrist) and Ivica Zubac (yeah, I don’t know either), both of whom are listed as questionable.

Hey, the Mavs seem pretty good at basketball!

On a completely different note, things have been looking pretty fun for the Mavericks lately after back-to-back wins over the Grizzlies and Thunder. With six games under the team’s post-All Star belt, it’s time to indulge in a little fun with small sample sizes going into tonight’s game.

Over the last six games, the Mavs have not collectively been amazing at offense (although individual performances from guys like Seth Curry have been phenomenal), but their defense has been third best in the league, just ahead of the Warriors, giving them the fifth-best point differential in the West. Playoffs bound, indeed!

Somehow, Swaggy P is having himself a career year

It’s worth mentioning (particularly if you were a little surprised to see him at All-Star weekend) that amidst all the Lakers’ on-court struggles and off-court Buss family drama, Nick Young is arguably having the best year of his career.

This guy is somehow shooting exactly as well as Klay Thompson from three and taking about as many attempts from deep per game. So, uh, I guess he’ll be Wesley Matthews’ defensive assignment tonight?

How to watch

Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30pm on Fox Sports Southwest. Outside of the Dallas and Los Angeles areas, you can watch via NBA League Pass.