Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are staring down the gun barrel of a 0-2 series deficit. Many have mentioned their age, mental and physical fatigue, chemistry, and trust issues which are all alarming at this time of the year and causes for concern. These are valid points, but their defense and execution are the true culprits or really the lack thereof.

The fact of the matter is that in the biggest game of the year… the Lakers did not show up.

The Lakers have only themselves to blame for being in this predicament. It is a deep hole that they have to climb out of, but not impossible. They need to win four of the next five games. A feat that can’t be discussed; unless the series comes back to Los Angeles. The Purple and Gold have to use the one game at a time approach.

You have to give the Mavericks credit for playing good basketball, capitalizing on the Lakers mistakes and winning the first two games. However, they’re not tearing it up and playing stellar basketball. If memory serves me correctly, the Mavericks are the same team that squandered a big lead to the Blazers in the first round series. They’re also the same team that lost in the NBA Finals after possessing a 2-0 lead.

As expected, the Lakers will be without the services of Ron Artest who was suspended for an uncalled for flagrant foul. This will force a line up change for the Lakers. Look for Shannon Brown to start at shooting guard and Kobe Bryant to play at the small forward position.

This line up should add quickness to the Lakers defense and increase the scoring total of the front line. They’re still in need of more production from Pau Gasol. They needs to establish both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post. Both big men have to be aggressive and attack the rim. The only way that the Lakers get out of this precarious position that they find themselves in is with better defense.

The Lakers have to show up, motivated and play inspired basketball with a sense of urgency. Now is the time for them display defensive focus and offensive discipline. They have to control the tempo of the game, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, play better defending the screen and roll play, quickly rotate out to open shooters, and out rebound the Mavericks.

This is the most important game of the season and a matter of who wants it more. This is a must-win game for the Lakers, which should provide an inspired performance. They need to play with tremendous energy, effort and execution.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, S. Brown, K. Bryant, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Mavericks:
J. Kidd, D. Stevenson, S. Marion, D. Nowitski, B. Haywood

Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • Dallas: KTXA 21 (Mark Followill & Brad Davis)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Dallas: ESPN 103.3 (Bob Ortegal & Chuck Cooperstein)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
  • Ron Artest (Suspension) Out

Mavericks:

  • SF Caron Butler (Ruptured Patellar Tendon, Right Knee) Out
  • SG Dominique Jones (Right Foot Stress Fracture) Out
  • Laker4Life

    Lakers are officially done. Pau sucks a??. He is as soft as a marshmallow. I doubt we will see this same Lakers team next season. I say trade gasol for howard. Also get rid of the whole bench except odom.

    • LakerMarc

      Ditto…been saying this would happen all season long…doesnt make you less of a fan just makes you a smarter and more realistic one..games aren’t decided with magic wands.

      • Laker4Life

        Well LakerMarc I knew this would happen too, but did not expect it to be in the conference semis against the mavs. I thought lakers would lose in the finals actually.