Pre-Game Pep Talk -
I honestly Expect to win this game quite easily. The trade for Dallas was at best a marginal improvement and Dirk is probably as soft as a superstar can get without being constantly injured (that would be T-Mac).
Besides, we have three token Euros to their one, and anytime you have token Euros doubling as the token white guys on your team, you obviously have style. And as the age-old adage goes, style wins Championships.
Marquee Match-Ups -
Point Guard – Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar vs. Jason Kidd: Jason Kidd is great, but he’s lost a step and really, really can’t shoot. I mean, he’s under 40% for the season. Don’t let his 9-18 shooting from Friday’s game against the Queens fool you, or the fact that he’s actually shooting 50% from the field and from 3-point range in his six games as a Maverick. The fact that he’s also doubled his steals average to three a game while maintaining his fantastic averages of 8 boards and 10.5 assists can only mean he’s on an adrenaline rush from joining his new team. However, even if he starts out hot we’ll be fine because we can counter with our defensive stalwart Derek Fis…
Seriously though, sooner or later the other shoe has to fall for Kidd’s shot, and sooner or later Fisher will start making his again. Hopefully both these phenomena occur during the game. Beyond that it is worrisome that our second unit’s more frantic style of play matches up well with Kidd’s talents, but in Jordan Farmar we have the clinched Parker-esque point guard who can drive past Kidd with his speed but can also keep him honest with his 3pt shooting. Still…
It sure is a good thing that Basketball isn’t a one-player game.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant vs. Jason Terry: Terry has been in a bit of a shooting slump for the last two games, shooting 20% and scoring a grand total of 9 points. he is liable to get hot from downtown and with Kidd on the floor that could be a bad thing. Kobe is going to have to play him close and not roam if Terry gets going.
Still Kobe is Kobe.
It sure is annoying that Basketball isn’t a one player game.
Small Forward – Luke Walton or Vladimir Radmanovic vs. Josh Howard: Josh Howard had been having a poor run of form, to the tune of 35% shooting over the last six, and may be licking his chops at the chance to go up against either of these two “it’s not that they’re nonathletic, they just have a hard time guarding athletic players” players. to be fair to Luke, he’s been coming around as of late, playing moderately good defense, and his confidence seems to be returning.
Still, you have to like Howard in this match-up.
It sure is a good thing Luke has a high basketball I.Q.
Power Forward – Lamar Odom vs. Dirk Nowitzki: Lamar is having a terrific run of form and has been a consistent bright spot ever since the Gasol trade. However, Dirk has been playing at a high level pretty much for 2 regular seasons now, plus he had a great scoring month in February. Lamar has the length and the speed to guard Dirk on the floor and is versatile enough to take advantage of Dirk’s tepid defense on the other.
Still, odds are you’ll see Kobe on him at some time in the game.
No Advantage: If Lamar continues his fine form.
It sure is a good thing that Lamar has turned all that potential into… being a great 4th option.
Center – Pau Gasol vs Erick Dampier: Not much to say really. Dampier is a very good offensive rebounder, Gasol is going to have to box him out consistently to avoid giving the Mavs too many second chances. He’s had at least 4 offensive rebounds in the last three games. (although to be fair in two of those games he played against Joakim Noah and and Mikki Moore) Gasol has not shot the ball that well the last two games and fatigue is a concern.
Still, I expect Kobe and Fish to be looking to set him up early for easy hoops on Sunday, and if they do…
It sure is a good thing that Memphis’ General Manager is committed to rebuilding… the Los Angeles Lakers that is.
Our bench trio of Farmar, Sasha and Turiaf normally come in and give us the push we need with their tenacious D, 3pt shooting, shot blocking, energy, and general do-whatever-it-takes-ness, which I guess is hustle. They had a poor shooting night against the Blazers collectively but I expect them to bounce back strong.
On Dallas’ end, Jerry Stackhouse is a streaky shooter who has seen better days. The “other” Nets acquisitions are apparently not adept at learning the Mavs system and have not featured much as of yet. I don’t expect it to be any different this time. Brandon Bass is a young big who hustles and makes plays, and hits free throws, but we have Turiaf, who does all that and dances to boot. The Mavs also signed Jamaal Magloire to give them six fouls to use, but apparently he’s not ready to do even that just yet and is not expected to suit up.
Overall, I feel our bench will at least play at par with Dallas’ but in all likelihood will out-score, out-rebound and out-assist as well.
Statistical Predictions -
20+ points from Kobe, Pau and either Sasha or Farmar.
10+ boards from Pau and Lamar.
5+ blocks from Ronny.
10+ point margin for your Lakers.
20+ hits on my next preview.
Burning Questions/Sage Answers -
As the title suggests, this is the section where I will answer some of your burning Questions with Sage answers. This is my first Pre-Game so I got all my burning questions off my chest, for the rest of the season I hope to provide a similar service for the TLN community (if it’s funny, it doesn’t even have to be about basketball).
Is Pau Gasol in a shooting slump? – Jonny
I haven’t actually seen the last two games, but I’m pretty sure the last two games are the only ones where he hasn’t shot 50% from the field (To be fair, 6-13 and 4-10 are pretty close to 50%, but that’s nowhere near the 60% he’s averaging as a Laker. *1). Hopefully his shooting touch, as well as his shot attempts, go up against Dallas, as we have won every game in which Pau shoots 50%+, but we lose 50% of the games that he doesn’t.
Does Kobe Deserve the MVP this Season? – Jonny
Personally i think it does. However it would be a no brainer if the definition of MVP was: Best performance while playing injured. Even if we were to not consider his amazing history of playing well with injuries his stat line since the All-Star break is nothing short of spectacular: 26..5 points on 52% shooting, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.1 assists to go along with the 2.4 steals he racks up every game. what is even more amazing is that his season averages are 27.8ppg/6rpg/5.4apg 46% shooting and 2 steals. As Charles Barkley said on the TNT telecast on Thursday (paraphrase): [The NBA] should just send the trophy to Los Angeles already.
*1 – this author did some research before publishing and found that there were two other games in which Pau shot less than 50% from the field; 5-14 in the loss Atlanta and 4-10 in the first win against Miami. Incidentally, the 50% loss ratio remained the same.