The Los Angeles Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs for the first time since 1988. The Lakers won the regular season series 2-1; they won the last two games of the three games series convincingly.
This much-anticipated second round series provides the Lakers the opportunity to face a Western Conference opponent deemed to have the size to match there own in the post. The Mavericks loaded up on size this past off-season bringing in centers Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood.
The Mavericks have the height and depth, one of the best point guards in the league in Jason Kidd and the a former league MVP in Dirk Nowitzki, but the fact of the matter is that the size, length, versatility, and experience of the Lakers will be too much for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers know their formula for success. Establish both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the post and provide them several touches and opportunities to determine the outcome of this game. The front line of Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom has averaged 52 points per game while shooting 60% from the field.
Pau Gasol struggled in the series against the Hornets with Carl Landry being physical with him on defense and attacking him offensively until Gasol got back on track. The Mavericks will try, but don’t have the personnel to play the same way. Some may call this series Kobe Bryant versus Dirk Nowitzki, but these two stars will not be facing each other.
Kobe Bryant still has a sore left ankle, although being the warrior that he is will play and be the x-factor that the Mavericks have no answer for in terms of stopping. Despite the offensive brilliance and sustained excellence by Kobe, the title runs for the Lakers were built on their defense.
It is imperative that the Lakers stop the dribble penetration of the guards, do a much better job of defending the screen and roll play and getting back in transition. Jason Kidd is a solid point guard who has become a solid three-point shooter. The Lakers need to contest his shots and make him work hard for everything he gets. Defensively, they have to rotate out to open shooters and extend their defense out to the three-point line. Lamar Odom will be a key contributor to defending Dirk Nowitzki away from the basket.
The Lakers need to run their offense to be effective using excellent ball movement and excellent man movement. After a slow start in the post season, Pau Gasol should return to the consistent 20-point 10-rebound performer that Laker Nation is used to seeing.
The Purple and Gold have to defend well and win the rebounding battle. The reserves have to out play and outscore the Mavericks reserves. Lamar Odom and Jason Terry battled it out for the sixth man of year award, (won by Odom) and the two will be battling to make a difference on the court tonight. The Lakers have to limit Terry’s impact on the outcome of the game.
This writers feels that the Lakers will win this game tonight by eight points and the series in six games.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Mavericks: J. Kidd, R. Beaubois, S. Marion, D. Nowitski, T. Chandler
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Dallas: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Dallas: ESPN 103.3 (Bob Ortegal & Chuck Cooperstein)
- Theo Ratliff ( Left Knee) Out
- Kobe Bryant (Ankle) Day-to-Day, will play
- Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
- SF Caron Butler (Ruptured Patellar Tendon, Right Knee) Out
- SG Dominique Jones (Right Foot Stress Fracture) Out