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Lakers vs. Mavericks Preview: Was moving to the old starting lineup the right move?

The Lakers picked up a big win against the Thunder and will now look to build momentum with a game against Luka Doncic and the Mavs.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers continue their four-game home stand on Wednesday when they take on the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles is looking for their second straight win and their first one against Dallas this season.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

When: 5:30 p.m. PT, Jan. 17

Where: Arena

Watch: ABC, Spectrum Sportsnet

The Lakers looked like the team that won the In-Season Tournament (IST) in Monday’s victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They played hard and got a balance of contributions from everyone on the rotation. It was a potential momentum-building win that the purple and gold need to capitalize on.

Perhaps the biggest change ahead of Monday’s primetime game was the Lakers’ starting lineup, which Darvin Ham said will remain for the foreseeable future barring any injuries. It was the same lineup that Ham started the season with and one that he reverted back to again because of the desire to put skill and shot-making around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

While the starting unit of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince, James and Davis started and closed the game relatively well last Monday, the question is: Was their performance sustainable moving forward?

For as much skill and shot-making this starting unit consists of, remember that it was their flaws that forced Ham to move away from it in the first place. That’s what the Lakers will have to figure out moving forward while, at the same time, stacking up as many wins as possible.

Can the Lakers’ starting unit improve their flaws?

The biggest flaws of this starting unit are their rebounding and defensive issues. It was evident on Monday night against the Thunder as the Lakers gave up 21 second-chance points and 13 offensive rebounds — which isn’t really encouraging at all.

Luckily for the Lakers, Oklahoma missed 34 of their 49 three-point attempts. According to the league’s tracking data, the Lakers allowed the Thunder to shoot 34 wide-open threes, which isn’t a surprise because, as we all know by now, L.A. gives up the most wide-open 3-pointers to their opponents each game. The Lakers seem to live and die with this strategy and, thankfully for them, it went their way last Monday night.

What to look out for against Dallas

I brought up the Lakers’ 3-point defense in the graph above because that’s going to play a huge role in Wednesday’s heavyweight matchup against the Mavericks. Dallas ranks second in the league in three-point attempts (41.1) and three-pointers made (15.2) per game.

In their previous matchup, the Lakers were buried by Dante Exum, who made seven of his nine 3-point attempts. Los Angeles needs to watch out for Dallas’ shooters on Wednesday.

However, where the Lakers can capitalize on is Dallas’ rebounding woes as they’re worse than even the purple and gold. The advantage the Lakers have is their ability to score inside the paint, which starts with Davis. He scored 37 points against the Mavs in their previous battle last December. It would also be ideal if the Lakers get another balanced scoring game from everyone in the rotation.

Let’s see if the ironically old and new starting lineup rejuvenates this team to win two in a row and finally get one against the Mavs this season on Wednesday.

Notes and Updates:

  • This is the last time the Lakers will go up against the Mavericks in the regular season and. since they’ve already dropped two games to them, it’s Dallas who already holds the tie-breaker.
  • The Mavs (24-17) have been without their superstar Luka Doncic over the past three games. Although they’ve held up relatively well without his services as they’re 6-4 in their last 10 games and are 11-8 on the road this season. They’ve also dropped to the sixth seed of the competitive Western Conference as of late.
  • For the Lakers’ injury report, Anthony Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise) is listed as probable while LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) is noted as questionable. As expected, Cam Reddish (left knee effusion) and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) are out.
  • As for the Mavs, Luka Doncic (right ankle sprain) has been upgraded to questionable while Grant Williams (right ankle sprain) and Derrick Jones Jr. (right calf contusion) are probable. Dante Exum (right plantar) is listed as out.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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