Following a disappointing defeat to the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday evening, the Lakers head back to Los Angeles to face the Dallas Mavericks who themselves are engaged in a battle to clinch their place in the NBA Playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks (45-31) @ Los Angeles Lakers (25-50) – 7:30 PM PST
Lakers – Bryant, Farmar, Gasol and Henry are all OUT. Kaman and Nash are doubtful, however the former may have to play due to front court injuries.
Mavericks – None to report.
Lakers – PG: Kendall Marshall. SG: Jodie Meeks. SF: Kent Bazemore. PF: Jordan Hill/Ryan Kelly. C: Kaman/Hill.
Mavericks – PG: Jose Calderon. SG: Monta Ellis. SF: Shawn Marion. PF: Dirk Nowitzki. C: Samuel Dalembert
(note: these are the probable starters, TBC)
PPG – Mavericks: D. Nowitzki – 21.6
Lakers: P. Gasol – 17.4
RPG – Mavericks: MULTIPLE – 6.6
Lakers: P. Gasol – 9.7
APG – Mavericks: M. Ellis – 5.8
Lakers: K. Marshall – 8.9
BPG – Mavericks: S. Dalembert – 1.2
Lakers: P. Gasol – 1.5
SPG – Mavericks: M. Ellis – 1.8
Lakers: K. Bazemore – 1.5
Whilst the Mavericks will be running on tired legs, their stay in Los Angeles reduces the fatigue gained from travel and as such, they should be rested well enough to provide a stern challenge for the Purple and Gold tonight.
The primary threat for the Lakers tonight is, as it always has been, the 7-foot German forward, Dirk Nowitzki. Unsurprisingly, Dirk is finding himself on a fine run of form going into the closing night of the season and subsequently, the team need to keep him firmly under wraps tonight. Throughout the year, Dirk has thrived when playing alongside the Dallas newbie, Monta Ellis. The duo ooze coordination and class when playing their brand of pick-and-roll, allowing both players to get strong looks in areas where they are most comfortable. For Ellis, this has ignited his efficiency and allowed him to become prolific in his midrange game, as well as boosting his scoring inside. As for Dirk, there is no surprise. He remains as fantastically consistent as he has ever been, being able to hurt teams from three-point range and an astonishingly green field within the D. Take a look at his shot chart, it really is remarkable. The duo are on course to surprise a few teams come the first round of the playoffs and the (at the best of time “lapsed”) defence of the LA needs to be ready for the challenge.
However, it won’t be clear sailing for the Mavericks either as the consistently improving shooting guard, Jodie Meeks, aims to derail their playoff dreams. Meeks’ development throughout the year has proved to be one of the few saving graces of an otherwise disastrous season and his recent comments regarding his wish to return make for pleasant reading for fans of the Purple and Gold. In the last game against the Kings, Jodie lead the team in scoring with 21 points in his 36 minutes played. He’s currently playing at career-high levels in FG%, 3FG% and PPG, making sure that he remains a valuable asset this off-season. When Jodie gets hot, he gets hot. Should the Lakers’ three-point system get rolling early on in the game, he should be the man to watch. His speed and versatility could prove to be a problem for the Mavericks who have struggled to cope with these characteristics when playing man-to-man defence throughout the season. Expect Jodie to play a great role in a victory tonight should he have a feel for the game early on.
Coming off a back-to-back, the Lakers have a chance to stun the fatigued Mavericks and place their playoff pursuits on hold. If Nick Young really wants to encourage the team to spoil others playoff hopes, tonight would be a good day to do so.
Apologies for a preview that is a tad rushed. Let’s just hope for a Lakers win!