The Los Angeles Lakers face the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in the second game of their back to back. The Lakers had earlier lost a totally one-sided encounter at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This match will be the second encounter of the season between the two teams. The Lakers won that encounter convincingly at the Staples Center.
The Lakers are currently the 8th ranked team in the Western Conference with a 21-19 record. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks have an 18-21 record and are the 13th ranked team in the Western Conference playoff race.
Here is the match preview and the expected starting lineups for the two teams
Los Angeles Lakers' perspective
The Lakers have lost 5 out of their last 6 matches in the absence of LeBron James. LeBron James was having another MVP caliber season before he got injured with a groin strain. He is again going to be unavailable for this match against the Mavs.
The Lakers will also be without Rajon Rondo who has also missed the last 6 games. Kyle Kuzma is expected to return to the starting line up after suffering from a back contusion in the match against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers have struggled mightily to close out games in the absence of James. His presence had a calming effect on the entire team. But without him, they are getting outscored by around 7 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Lonzo Ball finished the match against the Timberwolves with 0 points. He has struggled to score throughout the year, averaging only 9.6 points per game for the season. Brandon Ingram has not stepped up his displays and has struggled to make any significant impact. The Lakers need to figure out how to win without James.
Dallas Mavericks' perspective
The Dallas Mavericks started off the season on a very bright note. But they have lost 10 out of their last 13 games and are currently lying outside the playoff standings. They have particularly struggled on the road and just completed their recent road trip with a 1-3 win-loss record.
But the Mavs have been remarkable at home. They have a 15-3 win-loss record at the American Airlines Center, winning 13 out of their last 14 home games.
Luka Doncic is the leading scorer for the Mavericks and has been the most clutch player for the team. Doncic also has the second highest All-Star votes of all the Western Conference frontcourt players, behind only LeBron James. The Mavericks will again rely on their rookie sensation to get them home in this crucial encounter between two Western Conference playoff hopefuls.
Expected starting lineups
Here is the expected starting lineups for the two teams:
Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball (PG), Josh Hart (SG), Brandon Ingram (SF), Kyle Kuzma (PF), JaVale McGee (C).
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic (PG), Dennis Smith Jr. (SG), Wesley Matthews (SF), Harrison Barnes (PF), DeAndre Jordan (C).
The Lakers had a narrow one-point victory in the previous encounter between the two teams. The Lakers will be playing on the second night of a back to back. They have struggled mightily to close out games without James. Their young core has not displayed much leadership and they have even lost one home game against the lowly Knicks during their recent skid.
The Mavericks have been great at home. They have beaten the likes of Golden State Warriors at their home. They have a 15-3 home record.
The Dallas Mavericks are expected to win this encounter against the Lakers.