The Dallas Mavericks will host the LA Lakers on Thursday in what will be the first of two back-to-back fixtures between the two sides. Both teams have only won two of their last five games and need to quickly mend their ways to avoid slipping further down in the Western Conference standings.
The LA Lakers most recently split their two-game series against the Utah Jazz. Andre Drummond blew hot and cold in these two outings. His 27-point outing helped the Purple and Gold claim victory in the first game, but the Jazz defended him well on Monday and he was reduced to just nine points. Frank Vogel's men are currently placed fifth in the West with a 35-23 record.
The Dallas Mavericks have had a largely fit squad, but they too have struggled off late. They comfortably won their last game against the Detroit Pistons but had lost four of their five games prior to that. Luka Doncic has been in fine form this month, averaging 28.4 points, 7.9 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis has been paltry from the field in the last three games, averaging 17 points on just 36.2% shooting from the field.
LA Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks: Injury Report
Anthony Davis is set to make his long-awaited return against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. Davis missed 30 straight games for the LA Lakers with a calf strain but has now been cleared for participation. He's likely to be on a 15-20 minute restriction, though.
LeBron James is still a few days away from a full recovery, while Jared Dudley doesn't have a timetable for return yet. Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond and Markieff Morris all played in the LA Lakers' loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday and appear on the injury report as probable. Marc Gasol has missed the last two games and he remains questionable with a finger injury.
Kristaps Porzingis has normally been rested for the second night of back-to-back games this season. He featured yesterday against the Pistons but head coach Rick Carlisle expressed hope regarding his availability for the game against the LA Lakers.
Maxi Kleber suffered a significant bruise on his back against Detroit last night and is questionable for today's game. Tim Hardaway Jr. played through an illness yesterday so he should be available for the Dallas Mavericks against the LA Lakers as well.
LA Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks: Predicted Lineups
Even though Anthony Davis will be playing after a long time, expect him to slot right into the starting lineup. Andre Drummond will featur alongside him and the duo will be tasked with dominating the point on both ends of the court.
Dennis Schroder has been the floor general for the LA Lakers in the absence of LeBron James and he will start as the point guard. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has had a patchy run of late but he managed to return to form with a combined 40 points in two games against the Utah Jazz. He'll round out the team's backcourt. Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma will continue as the primary wing player.
Talen Horton-Tucker had a good 24-point outing against the Jazz in the previous game and he'll be looking to replicate that number off the bench. Expect Alex Caruso and Markieff Morris to also chip in with vital contributions.
Luka Doncic pretty much runs the entire show on offense for the Dallas Mavericks, and he'll occupy the primary ballhandler's role again on Thursday night. Josh Richardson helps out with his two-way ability and will round out the Mavs' backcourt.
Dorian Finney-Smith has turned into a vital defender for the Dallas Mavericks and can even spot up for the occasional three-pointer. He'll start again as the small forward. With Maxi Kleber's inclusion in doubt, Dwight Powell is likely to continue as the starting center for a second consecutive game. Kristaps Porzingis is also likely to ignore the standard resting protocol and line up against the LA Lakers.
Jalen Brunson has been an impressive understudy to Doncic and will lead the Dallas Mavericks' second unit. He'll be ably supported by the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr. and JJ Redick. Boban Marjanovic may get a few minutes too.
LA Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks: Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder | Shooting Guard - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma | Power Forward - Anthony Davis | Center - Andre Drummond
Point Guard - Luka Doncic | Shooting Guard - Josh Richardson | Small Forward - Dorian Finney-Smith | Power Forward - Kristaps Porzingis | Center - Dwight Powell