LA Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks - 12/15, 7:30 PM ET
Two of the big franchises in the NBA go head-to-head tonight looking to turn their mediocre seasons on their head as the Lakers head to Dallas to take on the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks.
The Lakers have amassed a 15-13 record so far this season and a losing away record of 5-6. Without LeBron James for parts of the season, the 2020 champions were forced to adapt to a new way of playing and struggled.
Since his return they have seen an upturn in their fortunes though, earning a 6-4 record in the last ten games with the 19-year veteran among their best performers.
As for the Mavericks, this season has already been largely written off. A poor record of 14-13 so far this season has seen them go 4-6 in their last ten games and with star-man Doncic missing with an ankle injury they are still looking for someone to step up and help guide them.
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Both sides are likely to be without three regulars but it's Dallas who will miss their key man in Doncic.
Doncic sprained his left ankle on November 15, missed the next three games, and has dealt with persistent soreness since. He turned the ankle again during Friday's road loss to the Indiana Pacers and said afterward that he probably shouldn't have finished the game. He also sat out a Dec. 4 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with left ankle soreness.
They will also be without Sterling Brown, who has a foot injury, and Willie Cauley-Stein who is out for personal issues.
The Lakers will be without Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza for the game, who have knee and ankle problems respectively while power forward Anthony Davis is regarded as 'day-to-day- with his own knee troubles.
Neither side has been particularly impressive so far this season and their respective team stats prove that. There is a clear disparity between the two teams though despite their relatively similar records, and that shows you that there is something deeper going on in Dallas.
The LA Lakers currently average 111.3 points per game, the fifth-best average in the league. On the flip side, Dallas are averaging 104.4 points per game and that ranks them at 26th in the NBA out of all 30 franchises.
The Lakers are also averaging 24.5 assists per game, ranking them 10th in the league, while their 8.7 steals per game,5.9 blocks per game, and 46.3 rebounds per game rank them at 7th, 4th, and 5th respectively for those statistics for the season in the NBA.
Dallas are averaging 22.6 assists per game which sits them at 22nd in the rankings, while their averages of 7.1 steals per game, 4.1 blocks per game and 43.7 rebounds per game sit them at 25th, 27th and 25th respectively.
The difference in those statistics considering there is only a single result separating their records for the season is staggering.
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This is a game that on paper when looking at their records should be quite close, but when you dig a little deeper you can see that it probably won't be.
The Lakers have gone 2-3 in their last five against Dallas, including back-to-back defeats in April in three days by scores of 115-110 and 108-93.
But this is a very different Dallas side and without Doncic they really are nowhere near a playoff outfit.
In their last 12 games against Dallas, the Lakers are 8-4 against the spread. That seems like a good bet once again here.
The total points have gone under in five of the Lakers' last six NBA games, while they are currently 7-1 in their last eight games against an opponent in the Southwest division.
The points total has also gone under in each of Dallas' last seven games and each of the last five at home too. The Mavericks have won just five of their last 14 games in total and with so many differentials going against them it's hard to see where victory comes in this game for them.
The Lakers are a powerful unit and with LeBron averaging 28.3 points per game, eight assists, 7.5 rebounds and .608 field goal percentage in the last week alone to be crowned player of the week.
He is likely to take this game by the scruff of the neck and push the Lakers to another victory and improve their record, while the Mavericks continue to sit and wait on Doncic's recovery.
LA Lakers +2.5
To beat Dallas Mavericks
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