Lakers vs. Mavericks NBA Best Bets for December 15

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LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks. In a battle of two proud Western Conference franchises which team is the right NBA pick?

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 7:30 PM EST ESPN at American Airlines Center

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers are returning to full health (except for Talen Horton Tucker who was diagnosed with Covid during the writing of this piece) with the return of LeBron James. Unfortunately for NBA bettors, Anthony Davis is made of glass and is on the injury list almost every night, so we will not know whether or not he plays till close to game time.

This game of "guess whether or not he plays" is getting tiresome. Unfortunately, the NBA has a toothless, feckless owner in Adam Silver who refuses to enforce any penalties for teams and players drastically flaunting the NBA's injury rules. Bettors and fans agree, we miss David Stern!

Yet everything in life is not ideal and we will do our best to navigate a tricky situation. I will go ahead and write this article with the assumption that Davis is playing. The Lakers finally have their big three stars playing together but the results have been less than stellar.

As Lakers fans are quick to point out, however, Westbrook often takes a while to adjust to his new team. These early-season results may not be indicative of this team's ability to compete in the playoffs. The Lakers are definitely coming together as a team and are getting better as the season progresses.

Even with a meandering regular season, the Lakers have the star power to trouble any top team once the playoffs start. Therefore, all eyes are on the Lakers and their development as a team for the potential championship implications every time they take the floor.

The addition of Westbrook, however, has magnified the Lakers’ spacing issues. More criticism has been logged at Davis because he refuses to play the center position. This leaves a traditional center, DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard, with Westbrook on the floor.

This results in Davis and James not having much space for the offense to operate. The Lakers have a potential playoff upgrade. Playing Davis at the 5 flips a switch in this Lakers offense and allows them to be 10 times more effective.

We must be careful not to let these mediocre regular season results downgrade our projections of a team with so much potential when it comes to looking at championship implications.

Dallas Mavericks

Accurately projecting the Mavericks is tough at this point because Luka Doncic is a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. Obviously, the presence of Doncic is a game-changer but we will attempt to do our best to analyze the roster without Luka in it. If Doncic is out, then Kristaps Porzingis is the focal point of the offense.

Porzingis is a talented 7 foot 3 big man who can score inside and outside. Porzingis' versatile offensive nature can be tough for many teams who do not have an athlete his size to slow him down.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they have Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard so this will not be the best matchup for Porzingis. Jalen Brunson takes over the bulk of the perimeter scoring and leads the point of attack for the Mavericks. Brunson is talented off the dribble and an accurate sharpshooter.

The Mavericks will miss Brunson off the bench when Luka is out, however, and this places a major burden on the bench and their ability to keep pace. Brunson can have a big game without Doncic in the lineup, but look to see how the bench performs without Brunson leading the way in order to see how the Mavericks will fare in this game.

If Brunson is in the starting lineup, Trey Burke, Reggie Bullock, and Dorian Finney-Smith will absorb a majority of the usage in the minutes played by the backups. All three are good catch-and-shoot scorers but can have problems generating their own shots. Shot creation could be an issue for the minutes that Brunson is not on the floor.

Key Matchup

Kristaps Porzingis vs. Anthony Davis

The Mavericks will be depending on Porzingis to carry the burden of the offense. Anthony Davis is one of the best defenders in the league. Reading the chatter of Lakers fans on Twitter it is obvious that most people still only watch one side of the ball when watching basketball.

Davis' offensive performance this year has definitely left something to be desired. Yet he has been one of the best defenders in the league, and criticisms of him often overlook the amount of effort he is putting in to carry this team defensively.

Once again, the Lakers will ask a lot of Davis' defensive abilities going against the versatile Porzingis. If Porzingis is able to have a big night against Anthony Davis, it will prove to his coach and his fans that he is capable of being a number two option on a contender against the league's best defenders.

If Davis is able to shut Porzingis down, it might not matter what Davis does on the offensive end because the Lakers will be cruising to victory.

Best Bet

The Lakers have too much talent to fall to a depleted Mavericks squad. LeBron James loves attention and with the spotlight currently on Stephen Curry, I'm sure he will be motivated to put up a performance that gets all eyes back on him.

Anthony Davis should win the match-up with Porzingis and that will be the key to the Lakers winning the game. For your best bets, today's play of the day is Los Angeles Lakers -1.

NBA Pick: Lakers -1 (-113) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Lakers -1 (-113)
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