The Los Angeles Lakers finally turned it around on Saturday after four straight losses, getting a close but convincing win on the road against the Trail Blazers. They will be back at it on Sunday, returning home to face the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs are also on the second night of a back-to-back but they won their matchup against the Warriors in a second-half blowout that ended sooner than the Lakers’ game, meaning they might have a slight edge on the rest advantage. Nevertheless, it will be a tough matchup for both sides as they attempt to battle fatigue to secure a second straight win on the weekend.
The Lakers had one of their most efficient games on the offensive end against the Blazers, scoring 128 points. They limited their turnovers to nine and went to the free-throw line 28 times and making 11-of-32 3-pointers. They will need to be similarly focused and in tune against a Mavericks team ranked first in offense by a considerable margin.
The Mavericks are led, of course, by sophomore phenom Luka Doncic who has returned to form since coming back from an ankle injury. Limiting Doncic’s effect on the game, both through his scoring and his passing, will be a major key to the Lakers success. The Lakers lack perimeter size to bother the point forward but through crisp rotations to take away lob passes and closing out on shooters, they can at least limit the damage he can provide through perfectly timed passes.
The Mavs have quite a few shooters on the team, including big man Kristaps Porzingis who has become much more comfortable in Dallas since a poor start to his season. He can space the floor and take away Lakers bigs from the paint to create more space for Doncic to operate in, making the Lakers help defense all the more important.
If the Lakers can limit the Mavericks’ shooters and play efficient offense on the other end, they’ll give themselves a chance of taking the lead in the season series against Dallas. Not doing either of those things would likely be the death knell for this game.
The Lakers host the Mavericks at Staples Center at 6:30 PM PST on ESPN.