Iâ€™m altering these game previews a little, adding some structure to them and hopefully making it easier to find key facts and other things that may interest you. Let us know what you think, what youâ€™d like to see added or subtracted (weâ€™re all about customer service here at FB&G).
Record: 18-6 (Pythagorean 16-8), 4th seed in the West
Record last 10 games: 8-2
Offensive Rating: 112.5 (3rd in league)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (16th in league)
About the Mavericks: When these two teams met last week, it led to one of the most entertaining games of the season (a 109-106 Laker win). In case you forgot, thatâ€™s the game Kobe played maybe his best game this year â€” including a fade-away three from 29 feet and a ridiculous move under the basket. Remember though, the key to that Laker win was that the rest of the Lakers outside Kobe and Lamar shot 55.6% (eFG%) that night in Dallas. Add to that Kwame played his best game of the season and was +14.
That kind of effort will need to be replicated â€” the Mavericks remain one of the few teams who can threaten the seeming destiny of San Antonio and Detroitâ€™s meeting in the finals. Also consider that the Mavs just starting to get everyone healthy at one time.
Of course the leader is Dirk Nowizki, who scored 27 and grabbed 15 boards in that game against the Lakers. The Mavs are +16.3 (per 48 minutes) when he is on the floor. But what makes the Mavs dangerous is their depth â€” Jason Terry has a PER of 19.5 this season and dropped 20 on the Lakers last week. Devin Harris also has been good (PER of 18.7) and Marquis Daniels has been good all season and scored 23 against the Lakers.
Dallas also is very good on the offensive glass, grabbing 31.1% of their missed shots (fourth best in the league).
Daniels and Jerry Stackhouse are coming off injuries. Both are traveling with the team, Daniels is expected to play, Stackhouse is a game time decision.
One thing I hope to see tonight: Darrell Armstrong grabbing the mike before the game.
The Lakers coming in: Letâ€™s talk about a mistake you keep seeing in the media â€” that the Laker defense has been dramatically better (and the key) during the recent run of good play. In the Houston game, FSW flashed a graphic showing that in the last 7 games the Laker have been giving up just 92 points per game, down from 97 earlier in the season.
The reason for that is they have slowed the game down. In the last 10 games the Laker opponents have averaged 88.6 possessions per game â€” prior to that it was 93.1, almost 5 fewer possessions per game. Considering the fact NBA teams score about a point per possession, the fact the points per game is down 5 shows you the Laker defense has been consistent.
Ronny Turaif has been cleared to play by team doctors, although it will be a while before he suits up for a game.
Right now the Lakers are on pace for a 44 win season, Dallas 61.
Keyâ€™s to a Laker win: A key part of the Lakers win against Dallas was Smush, Sasha and the other tall Laker guards caused problems for the Dallasâ€™ smaller, quick guards (Jason Terry scored 20 but was 5 of 13 from the field). They will need to do that again, and maybe be used to post up.
Last game Kobe scored 43, Dallas players said that they â€œmade the game too easy for himâ€ last time. If Dallas looks to stop Kobe first, second and third, the key will be other guys stepping up, like they did last game. And Lamar Odom needs to show up tonight.
Plus there can be no defensive lapses â€” if you think Houston without Yao Ming can exploit the Laker â€œDâ€ when they get lazy, imagine what Dallas will do.