After months of trades, free agency signings, draft picks, and cable rights’ negotiations, the NBA season is finally beginning tomorrow night for the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was an eventful offseason that raised expectations for the team to astronomical levels. Recently acquired players like Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison will team up with familiar faces like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace as the Lakers prepare for 82 games of intense basketball.
Throughout the next eight months, we will see if all of the major changes pay off for the organization. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the journey and it starts with a dual against a rival the Lakers know pretty well: the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas Mavericks Breakdown:
After a disappointing end to their 2012 campaign, Mark Cuban knew that he had to retool his team if they wanted to return to the glory days of 2011. The team was too old and they needed to get younger pieces to surround Dirk Nowitzki, who will be entering the 15th season of his illustrious career. Unfortunately for Dallas, Nowitzki is out six weeks with a knee injury. The Mavs will start 2012 shorthanded, which will give the Lakers a major advantage in the game.
The team will need to rely on their aforementioned younger pieces if they’re going to win tomorrow and beyond. The Mavs acquired budding point guard Darren Collison and up-and-down shooting guard O.J. Mayo in order to rejuvenate their backcourt. Ironically, they’ll have a former UCLA Bruin and USC Trojan, respectively, playing in their backcourt this season.
The Mavs also bolstered their bench by signing Elton Brand. Teams can never have too much size in the NBA and signing Brand adds a physical element to the team, which they lost when Tyson Chandler departed after their championship run.
Projected Starting Fives:
C: Eddy Curry
PF: Elton Brand
SF: Shawn Marion
SG: OJ Mayo
PG: Darren Collison
Key bench players: Vince Carter, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dahntay Jones
C: Dwight Howard
PF: Pau Gasol
SF: Metta World Peace
SG: Kobe Bryant*
PG: Steve Nash
Key bench players: Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake, Robert Sacre
*Questionable to play
Obviously, the Lakers have an enormous advantage in the paint with both Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki out of the lineup for the Dallas Mavericks. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol should have field days up front against an aging Curry and an undersized Brand. Fortunately for Gasol and Howard, they’ll have an elite point guard in Steve Nash distributing them the ball. The key for the Lakers will be to pound the ball inside to their bigs and expose Curry and Brand.
Without their leader, Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs will look for battle-tested guys like Mayo, Collison, and Marion to take charge. All three of these guys have significant playoff experience and they’ll need to play at the top of their games if Dallas wants to win. This is extremely unlikely, though. The Lakers are just too stacked for the injury-riddled Mavericks and this might be a long night for the Mavericks and their fans.
Even if Kobe Bryant doesn’t play, the Lakers have enough talent to overcome the loss of the Mamba. In fact, it may be wise for Kobe just to sit this one out in order to get some more rest for Wednesday night’s battle in Portland.
This will be the 133rd regular season game all-time between the Mavericks and Lakers. The Lakers have dominated the all-time series, 101-31. The Lakers have won 14 of their last 17 regular season meetings with Dallas and they’ve also won the last six. That being said, 14 of the last 18 games have all been decided by single digits, meaning they’ve all been close games.
The all-time playoff series is significantly less lopsided. The Lakers are just 12-10 all-time against the Mavs in the playoffs.
What Vegas Says
The Los Angeles Lakers are nine-point favorites against the Dallas Mavericks. They also have a 78.5 percent implied probability of winning based on their money line. A $100 bet on the Lakers will yield a $23.53 return on the money line assuming the Lakers win.
Lakers win and cover the spread.