The Los Angeles Lakers look for a little revenge when they face the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, having lost Thursday night’s contest between the clubs. The rematch is set for an 8:30 p.m. ET start at American Airlines Center in Dallas and will be televised nationally on ABC.
Los Angeles has lost two in a row and three of its last four and sits in fifth place in the Western Conference standings. The defending champions are three games behind the Denver Nuggets for fourth, which would bring home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Dallas has won two in a row to climb to sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Dallas is 2½ games behind the Lakers but only a half-game ahead of Portland for seventh place. The teams that finish from seventh to 10th place in the standings at the end of the regular season will participate in a play-in tournament to make the postseason.
The Mavericks are 2½-point favorites in the NBA odds on BetUS Sportsbook. The over/under for this game has been set at 216½ points.
While Thursday night was a loss in the standings for the Lakers, it was a win in that it marked the return to the court of forward Anthony Davis. The All-Star forward had missed 30 games with a calf strain and Achilles tendonitis in his right leg.
Davis played 17 minutes in his first action since Valentine’s Day, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting, so how much he’ll play on Saturday is anyone’s guess. In 24 games, Davis is the Lakers’ second-leading scorer at 24.0 points per game while also grabbing 8.2 rebounds and blocking 1.8 shots per game.
With Davis and LeBron James being sidelined, guard Dennis Schroder has emerged as the Lakers’ top scoring threat, as he’s averaging 15.6 points and dishing out 5.6 assists per game. Schroder is averaging 21.6 points over the last three games, including 25 points and 13 assists in Thursday’s loss.
Center Andre Drummond also had a big game Thursday with 14 points, 19 rebounds, and three blocks. Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 29 points, hitting six 3-pointers for his third straight game of making five or more.
The Mavericks’ five-game winning streak earlier this month, which included wins over the Jazz, Celtics, and Knicks, looked like the turning of a corner. Unfortunately, since beating both Utah and Milwaukee over a three-game span, Dallas has dropped four of seven to put itself on the fringe of the play-in tournament.
The team could be short-handed after Kristaps Porzingis rolled his ankle in Thursday’s game, making him questionable for the contest. Porzingis has played in only 39 games due to various injuries, averaging 20.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.
If Porzingis is out, more pressure goes on Luka Doncic to carry the load, though he already does almost everything for the Mavericks. Doncic had 30 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and three steals in Thursday’s win, leading or tying for the team lead in each category.
On the season, the MVP candidate is averaging 28.7 points to rank third in the NBA, 8.7 assists to rank sixth in the league, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals. If Doncic is off his game, the Mavericks are going to struggle, so the third-year guard is the key to any success Dallas has.
Lakers Keep it Close
Even with Davis playing only 17 minutes and not shooting well, the Lakers were able to take the Mavericks to the wire before falling. If Davis plays more and better, and Porzingis is out, this outcome could be a completely different story.
Los Angeles’ defense has been among the league’s best, ranking second in allowing just 106.3 points per game. Look for a more concerted effort to shut down Doncic, forcing his teammates to make the big shots.
When doing your NBA betting, go with the Lakers to at least cover on the road, if not come away with the outright victory.