The game comes after the Lakers suffered one of their more disappointing losses of the season, a 114-110 loss to the now 17-52 Houston Rockets. It would have likely been an easy win if Anthony Davis played, especially when you consider the Rockets outscored the Lakers in the paint 78 to 46, an area Davis could have certainly helped in.
The sad reality is that the Lakers’ team and medical staff decided when he returned that Davis would sit out half of all back-to-backs for the rest of the season. In what could end up being an interesting predicament for the team, the Lakers do have one final back-to-back that will encompass their third-and-fourth-to-last games of the season on Apr. 4 and 5.
But hey, these are past and future problems. The present will see the Lakers kick off a five-game homestand on Friday, starting with the Mavericks.
Candidly, I personally have treated every game as a must-win since before the calendar even turned to 2023, but it’s not up for debate anymore. Every remaining regular season game is a must-win for the Lakers, with this matchup against Dallas carrying added weight to it.
And unfortunately, the 34-36 Lakers will not be able to take advantage of tiebreakers against the 35-35 Mavericks if the two teams were to tie at the end of the season. This will be the fourth and final matchup between the two teams, with the Mavs currently winners of 2 of the 3 games they’ve played this season.
The Lakers could win on Friday to move from the “head-to-head record” tiebreaker to the divisional ones. The next tiebreaker would be the winner of their respective division (which will be neither of these teams), with the next tiebreaker being the respective team’s record against their division. That’s where things look bleak for the Lakers, as the Mavericks currently have a 9-5 record against their Southwest division compared to the Lakers’ 4-9 record in the Pacific.
But that doesn’t mean the Lakers can’t just leapfrog over the Mavericks in the standings, with no better way to get help in other parts of the standings than doing the job yourself.
And luckily, the Lakers will be on the favorable end of injury luck in this one as Luka Doncic will be out. Kyrie Irving — who will apparently always be associated with the Lakers in reports — may also miss the game as he will be listed as questionable.
Both players have missed their teams' past three games, with the Mavs going 1-2. However, it should be noted that the two losses were to the Grizzlies without Ja Morant (and Steven Adams) while the win was against the 18-51 Spurs.
With a rested Anthony Davis and the Mavericks potentially without their two sole creators on the team, the Lakers could quickly get the bad taste out of their mouths and get back on track with a very, very important win for their chances at making the postseason.
Notes and Updates:
- As noted above, the Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic (left thigh contusion) while Kyrie Irving (right foot soreness) will be questionable. This was a bit of a surprise as head coach Jason Kidd told reporters earlier in the day on Thursday that Doncic and Irving were full participants in practice.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (left calf contusion), old friends JaVale McGee (right ankle sprain), and Markieff Morris (left knee soreness) are also listed as questionable. A.J. Lawson (G League play) will be out.
- After sitting out against the Rockets on Wednesday, Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) is set to return against the Mavericks as he’s listed probable on the injury report.
- Mo Bamba (left ankle sprain) will continue to be out with his injury. LeBron James (right foot soreness) will also be out. A recent report from The Athletic’s Jovan Buha indicates that LeBron likely won’t return until around the final week of the regular season.
- Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider (G League play) will be out.
The Lakers and Mavericks will tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.