Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Game-Time Chat: Lakers @ Mavericks

This is not a good time for the Lakers to be playing their worst basketball of the season. The Lakers have dropped seven of their last eight games and have gone from 13-13 to 14-20 in a hurry. It's going to be hard to find answers as the team will be playing 10 of their next 11 contests on the road, starting today in Dallas and ending in New York against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. During this stretch, they will have to play the Rockets, Clippers, Suns, Raptors, Heat and then they head home to play the Indiana Pacers. It's a tough stretch of games that will all but ensure the Lakers record grows in the loss column. The Lakers are coming off of a horrid loss to the Denver Nuggets, allowing the Nuggets to score 137 points, the most points they have allowed in regulation since 1993 vs the Charlotte Hornets (141).

As stated before, the Lakers have had a massive rebounding problem and will not win very many games until they start rebounding; the Lakers are currently dead last in rebounding margin with a paltry -5.1. Injuries don't help that matter, however it is nice to see some of the role players step up. Tonight's game will be a test, that's for sure. The Mavericks are a surprising 19-15 at the moment and are basically a middle of the pack team; they are ranked 10th in Offensive Rating with 108.1 and 19th in Defensive Rating with 106.7. The team runs at a slightly above average pace of 94.3 (good for 13th).

Dallas is powered by the brilliant and aging Dirk Nowitzki, who is averaging 20.9 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. He leads the Mavs in Win Shares (4.3) and PER (23.1) and is just having a a wonderful age 35 season. Behind Dirk, the Mavericks have the surprising Monta Ellis, who has turned his image around from that of a volume scorer to one of the best shooting guards in the league. Ellis is averaging 20 points and 5.8 assists per game and is third on the team in PER with 17.6. Ellis provides outside shooting and an extremely quick first step mixed in with an array of floaters, pull up jumpers and straight dribble penetrations to keep defenses guessing. Next to Ellis and Dirk, the Mavs have some very good role players in point guard Jose Calderón, small forward Shawn Marion and center Samuel Dalembert, who each play their roles perfectly; Calderón as a shooter and passer, Marion as a defensive player and finisher and Dalembert as a defensive anchor and rebounder. On the bench, Dallas has the aging, but still effective Vince Carter leading the way, their bench is not a strength, but it also isn't a big weakness.

I think those of us who are going to tune in will do so to watch what could be one of the final games in Purple and Gold for Pau Gasol, Nick Young take some questionable, but exciting shots and most importantly: The Kendall Marshall show. Who will be the guy who carries the offensive production for the Lakers tonight?