LOS ANGELES LAKERS (2-2)
at DALLAS MAVERICKS (2-1)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 8:35 p.m. ET
Line: Dallas -8.5, Total: 214
Coming off four games in the first six days of the season, the Lakers look to get back above .500 when they visit the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles has been a team of early ups and downs over the first week of the season. An impressive opening win over the Clippers (13-point win as 10-point underdog) was followed up by a 31-point blowout road loss to the Warriors and a six-point home loss to the Spurs. The Lakers then notched a close 105-103 win in their next game at home against the Hawks on Sunday. The team has so many new players and different rotations that their inconsistencies are expected. Dallas tried to inject youth and speed into its lineup by adding SG Monta Ellis in the offseason, and he has seemed to help as the Mavericks are off to a 2-1 start and have reached 105 points in each of their first three games. Last season, the Lakers dropped the first game of the series, but won each of the final three meetings (SU and ATS) by an average of 16.7 PPG. All-time in this series, L.A. has dominated going 104-32 SU (.765) against Dallas and is 7-1 SU (6-2 ATS) over the past two seasons including a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) in Big D. One big part of the Lakers recent success in this series has been their rebounding edge, which they have had in each of the past seven matchups, but with the loss of C Dwight Howard, the Mavericks could regain the edge in that department. Over the last 10 games between these teams, the score has gone Over the total seven times. Los Angeles SG Kobe Bryant is still out with his Achilles injury, while Dallas is still missing SG Devin Harris (toe), rookie PG Shane Larkin (ankle) and C Brandan Wright (shoulder). Although the Lakers are a dreadful 0-10 ATS after 2+ straight ATS wins since the start of last season, Rick Carlisle is 13-29 ATS (31%) versus teams with 53+ RPG since becoming the head coach of the Mavs.
Can the Nuggets earn their first win of the season on Tuesday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Dave has opened the season at 60% ATS on his NBA Best Bets (3-2), while StatFox Brian is 2-0 ATS since Saturday.
The Lakers have now played four games this season and are averaging exactly 100.0 PPG. In their two wins they have scored 116 and 105 points (44% FG) but fell off the wagon in their two losses scoring only 94 and 85 points (38% FG). On the defensive side of the ball, L.A. has given up an average of 105.5 PPG (25th in NBA) but ranks fifth in the league in rebounds (47.5 RPG) and is tied for sixth in blocks (6.0 BPG). Not having their superstar, Kobe Bryant, has taken away the teamís identity and consistency in the early going. Stepping in as the new leader of the team has been PF Pau Gasol, who leads the team in both points (15.8 PPG) and rebounds (11.0 RPG). Gasol averaged better than a double-double (16.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG) with 5.0 APG in three games he played against Dallas last season, and has a career mark of 18.3 PPG (52% FG) and 7.8 RPG against them in 41 games (40 starts). PG Steve Nash (7.0 PPG, 5.3 APG) has shown his age this season with a horrible 29% FG clip, and struggled in his two games against Dallas last season too with just 13.5 PPG (but 48% FG) and 4.0 APG. Providing an unexpected spark on offense has been newly acquired SG Xavier Henry (14.3 PPG, 5-for-11 threes). Henry has recorded 14+ points in three of four games this season, something he did only one time last season with New Orleans.
Dallas has come out firing on offense this season and currently ranks third in the league with 111.3 PPG. The Mavericks have shot 44.4% from the field this year (13th in NBA) and have also done well behind the arc, hitting 38.6% three-pointers (11th in league). However, on defense, Dallas is third worst in the league (107.0 PPG allowed) but has defended the three well (31.9%, 8th in NBA) and ranks tied for 10th in the league in steals (9.3 SPG). PF Dirk Nowitzki (23.3 PPG, 47% FG, 4.7 RPG) is now 35 years old but does not look to be slowing down just yet. Nowitzki has scored 22+ points in each of the first three games and will look to continue his early success as the Lakers are the only team that he has averaged a double-double against over his career (22.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG in 52 career games). The addition of SG Monta Ellis (23.3 PPG, 46% FG, 3.7 APG) has given the Mavericks another potent offensive weapon to utilize. Ellis is averaged 20+ PPG for the fifth different time in his nine-year career, and has averaged 18.8 PPG and 4.8 APG against the Lakers in 23 career games (17 starts). SF Shawn Marion has averaged a double-double early on (13.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG) and had his best game of the young season against the Grizzlies on Saturday, scoring 21 points, grabbing 14 rebounds dishing out four assists and adding two blocks in a winning effort. Coming off the bench, C DeJuan Blair has averaged 9.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 2.0 SPG in just 20.3 MPG.