The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off two impressive wins against the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets, as they are a perfect 2-0 on their three-game road trip. They will face the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, a team coming in with a five-game winning streak and has been demolishing their opponents of late.
The Lakers have certainly felt the effect Nick Young has had on the team. He has given them a spark off the bench with his three-point shooting, spacing, energy, but most importantly, he’s been a consistent second option on offense. Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer have been incredibly inconsistent this season, so Young’s scoring abilities have taken some of the load off Kobe Bryant.
However, the Mavericks, coming in with a 9-3 record, have been clicking on all cylinders offensively. How terrific have the Mavericks been? They rank number one in scoring, averaging 108.9 points. They also rank number one in points per game differential with a plus-10.4. They rank number two in field goal percent, shooting 48.6 percent. They are also top five in costless throw percentage and assists per game. In addition, they take care of the ball exceptionally well, turning it over only 10.7 times per game, which is second best. Lastly, they have the sixth best bench in the league, as they get 38.3 points per game from their second unit. That’s what the Lakers are up against.
Like every other team, the Mavericks do have their soft spots. For one, they are not great at defending the three, as they rank bottom five in that category. Additionally, they rank 23rd in rebounding and are in the middle of the pack in opponent points per game and field goal percentage.
Either way, the Lakers have their work cut out for them. They need to continue to move the ball around sufficiently, as it cannot turn into the “Kobe Bryant show.” Of course going up against one of the top offensive teams, their defense will have to be top notch and effortful as well.
The most concerning part for the Lakers may be the matchups. Carlos Boozer is too undersized to defend Dirk Nowitzki, meaning the Lakers could possibly end up sticking Jordan Hill on Nowitzki while Boozer tries to keep Tyson Chandler off the boards, which is going to be another tough task for Boozer to handle. We may see a lot more of Ed Davis in this one since he has the length and athletic abilities to bother Dirk as much as he can.
On the other side of the ball, Chandler Parsons is expected to guard Kobe. Parsons is Dallas’ best perimeter defender, and his length and size have given Bryant plenty of fits before. However, with Parsons on Kobe, that would leave Monta Ellis on Wesley Johnson. Wes Johnson is not a post player at all, but he would certainly have height advantage over Ellis. It would be encouraging for the Lakers to see him try and use that to his benefit.
On a final note, J.J. Barea who has played well of late, averaging 12.0 points and 6.0 assists in his last three games, could be the X-Factor for the Mavericks. Barea has given the Lakers plenty of problems in the past with his quickness and ability to break down L.A.’s defense. Maybe Ronnie Price could try and stop him from wreaking havoc.
With their tremendous performances in the last two games, the Lakers should come in with a lot of poise and momentum. Let’s see if they can ride that throughout this game to earn their fourth victory of the season.