The Defending Champions LA Lakers will be looking to get their first win of the 2020-21 NBA season on Christmas Day as they take on Luka Doncic led Dallas Mavericks. It will be a battle between a former league MVP, and the favorite to win the award this season. The matchup between the two Western Conference giants will take place at Staples Centre with superstars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Luka Doncic on show.
LA Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks: Player Battles To Watch Out For
The LA Lakers are rightly regarded as one of the best teams in the league right now, especially following their Championship run last season. They've gotten better in the offseason, adding players such as Montrezl Harrell, Denis Schroeder, Marc Gasol, with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, and Kyle Kuzma all signing contract extensions.
The Dallas Mavericks, on the other hand, have had a dull offseason, with Josh Richardson replacing Seth Curry being the big news. There's no shortage of mystery surrounding the team, though, with questions like 'What is Luka's true potential?' 'When will Kristaps Porzingis be back? Will he be just as good as he was before?' 'What do the Dallas Mavericks do at the center position?'
Let's try to answer some of those questions as we jump right into the first of three key matchups to look out for Dallas Mavericks NBA Christmas Day game against LA Lakers.
#1 LeBron James vs Luka Doncic
It wasn't too long ago that 19-year-old Dallas Maverick rookie Luka Doncic was standing outside the LA Lakers locker room, waiting to get his LeBron James jersey autographed by the King. He's come a long way in that short period, though, putting up MVP caliber numbers, and the mutual respect both these players have on the court for each other has just grown from their 1st meeting.
Luka averaged nearly 29 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds last year, while the King had 25 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds to his name. It is equally impressive for Luka to be putting these numbers up for the Dallas Mavericks in his sophomore season in the NBA, while LA Lakers superstar LeBron continues to do it far beyond his prime at 36.
Both LeBron and Luka continue to be the primary ball handlers on their team, and it is going to be up to them to space out the floor, create shots for other players, knock down a few themselves, and ultimately try to beat each other in one of the most awaited games of NBA Christmas Day.
#2 Battle of the benches
The LA Lakers stood 6th in the league in points scored off the bench last year, while the Dallas Mavericks were not too far behind at 11th place. With an improved bench this year, having added reigning Sixth Man of the year Montrezl Harrell.
LA Lakers headcoach Frank Vogel, and his staff will depend on Harrell's aggressiveness off the bench and the sharpshooting of Kyle Kuzma. Looking at the preseason, one expects coach Vogel to give teenager Talen Horton-Tucker more playing especially during the regular season.
The Dallas Mavericks, on the other hand, will need a boost from their bench to stay in the game. Players like Maxi Kleber, Trey Burke, and Jalen Brunson need to step up to ease the pressure on the starting five. Willey Cauley Stein, with whom the Dallas Mavericks had a +14 in the six minutes he played for them in their last match, could also be given a bigger role.
#3 Marc Gasol vs Dwight Powell
The Dallas Mavericks have their biggest weakness at the Center position, a void that Dwight Powell hopes to fill. On 23rd, Powell played his first regular-season game in 11 months, and it will be interesting to see if he can return to his former self.
Powell could manage just two points along with two rebounds in his first game back, but as Willey Cauley Stein continues to impress, he will have to do better to retain his starting spot for the Dallas Mavericks.
Marc Gasol signed with the LA Lakers in free agency and would want to prove his worth on a Championship contending roster. Not being able to get the better of player, who is just coming off an long injury layoff, could leave the former Toronto Raptors player in an embarrassing situation. So, it will be interesting to see how easily can Gasol dominate Powel in the paint area.
Published 25 Dec 2020, 21:59 IST