Forum Blue & Gold

Records: Lakers 5-0 Mavericks 2-4
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112 Mavericks 104.7
Defensive ratings: Lakers 88.5 Mavericks 91.2
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Gerald Green, Dirk Nowitzski, Erick Dampier

Veterans Day: I know that there are some current and former members of the military who read this blog, and I just want to take a quick moment to thank you for your service. It is what you do that make it possible for us to enjoy little diversions like the Lakers and this humble blog, and we are indebted to you for that.

Lakers notes: Lakers, first in defensive efficiency, first or second in offensive efficiency (Basketball-Reference.com says first, and those are the numbers I usually use, but Hollinger’s numbers say second). Either way, that is a very impressive start to the season.

But this week the tests keep coming. When I first saw the schedule with a Dallas/New Orleans road back-to-back I thought a split would be a good outcome. And it’s a lot easier to get that win on the front end.

Cuban, Please Save Newcastle. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is listed as one of four Americans rumored to be in the running to purchase my beloved Newcastle United. Frankly, any new owner would be better than Mike Ashley (I would rather have Donald Sterling, it is that bad), but having seen Cuban’s commitment to winning (remember what a laughing stock the Mavs were before he bought them?) and his business sense, this would be a great fit. I want this.

The Mavericks Coming In: The Mavs are 2-4, and just loss to the Clippers? There were plenty of people predicting the Mavs would take a step back this year, but not fall apart. However, before you pile on, remember that two years ago the Mavs were 0-4 to start the season, but went on to finish with 67 wins. Six games do not a season make.

In comments yesterday, Dirk Nowitzski said right now the team is not playing hard enough for 48 minutes, and new coach Rick Carlisle has said that the team needs a sense of urgency. Not really great things to hear six games into the season. Adding to their woes, Josh Howard is questionable for tonight due to a wrist injury.

I have seen little of the Mavs so far this season, but Dirk’s assessment fit what I saw of the team against the Clippers. Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie used the word “careless” to describe the Mavs play, and that pretty much hit it on the head. They are getting good overall numbers from Dirk and Kidd, as well as some role players, but as a team they are sloppy.

The Mavs are shooting just 47.1% (eFG%) and they are shooting just 30% from three. They are a jumpshooting team that doesn’t attack the paint, and they don’t get to the line much. On the other side of the court, to balance the scales, the Mavs foul almost as much as anyone in the league. They also are not creating many turnovers.

Don’t be quick to blame Kidd for this – he is shooting 59.7% True Shooting Percentage and has a PER so far of 21.8 (which would be his highest for the season since 2003, -those numbers are slightly higher than Devon Harris, who was traded for Kidd, of course Harris is just 25 years old). One other guy playing well, is Gerald Green, who has a TS% o 62.4%. and he is not the defensive liability everyone thought he would be.

Keys To The Game: New coach, some new players, but one thing remains the same in Dallas – they have nobody who matches up well with Kobe. He has torched them many times in the past, and with Josh Howard considered doubtful for tonight, another option is gone. I think the Mavs may start with Green on Kobe, but that is a raw young defender who may be learning some valuable lessons tonight. The hard way.

The Mavs have been a jumpshooting team, and that is a good thing – there may be a night they will be hot but you can’t win consistently from the perimeter. The Lakers need to keep them out of the paint tonight. But with that, they have to defend the three point line, the Mavs have not shot the three well this season as a team but Kidd and Dirk are above 40% and you can’t let them get good looks. (Green can shoot it, too, so stay with him.)

As for the Lakers, as was said in the last post on this site, they need to continue to get the ball in the paint. Dirk and Dampier make a big front line for the Mavs, but the Lakers have to attack that and not settle for shots on the perimeter. The Mavs foul a lot, attack the rim and you will get some freebies.

After the slow start, the Mavericks are back home and need a statement game. Expect a big effort out of them tonight. The Lakers should win if they stick to what they have done in previous games, with crisp backside rotations on defense and an improving offense.

Where you can watch: This game is on KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles and on NBATV nationally. And by the way, in case you hadn’t heard, KCAL is not going to tape delay any games this season, which is great news.