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Western Conference Round 2 Playoff Preview: Los Angeles vs. Dallas

Apr 29, 2011, 5:29 AM EST

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

SEASON RECORDS
Mavericks: 57-25 (No. 3 seed in Western Conference)
Lakers: 57-25 (No. 2 seed)

SEASON SERIES
Lakers 2-1, and Los Angeles dominated the last two between these teams in March (during the Lakers post All-Star Game hot streak).

PLAYOFF SERIES
Mavericks: defeated the Portland Trailblazers 4-2
Lakers: defeated New Orleans Hornets 4-2

SERIES SCHEDULE (times Eastern)
Game 1 – Mon May 2 at L.A. Lakers 10:30PM (TNT)
Game 2 – Wed May 4 at L.A. Lakers 10:30PM (TNT)
Game 3 – Fri May 6 at Dallas 9:30PM (ESPN)
Game 4 – Sun May 8 at Dallas 3:30PM (ABC)
Game 5 * Tue May 10 at L.A. Lakers TBD (TNT)
Game 6 * Thu May 12 at Dallas TBD (ESPN)
Game 7 * Sun May 15 at L.A. Lakers 3:30PM (ABC)
* if necessary

KEY INJURIES
Lakers: Kobe Bryant has a sprained ankle that is going to continue playing through. After a few days off he should be near 100 percent.
Mavericks: Caron Butler has been close to return after knee surgery and will push to be back for this series, although how much he can play even if he does return is a valid question.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKING (points per possession)
Lakers: Offense 107.9 (7th in NBA); Defense 101.3 (6th in NBA)
Mavericks: Offense 107.6 (8th in NBA); Defense 102.3 (7th in NBA)

THREE KEY LAKERS

Andrew Bynum. In the final couple games of the New Orleans series, the Lakers seemed to find their defensive stride again. Andrew Bynum is at the heart of that; his ability to contest shots at the rim and rebound is key. He will have a stiff challenge as he will have Tyson Chandler, one of the best defensive centers in the game on him. But Bynum needs to keep Chandler occupied so he is not the spectacular help defender Chandler can be.

Pau Gasol. He will be matched up on Dirk Nowitzki in a battle of two of the best power forwards in the game. Nobody stops Nowitzki, but if Gasol can make him work on the defensive end and contest those fadeaways he can at least make the big German less efficient it will go a long way to helping the Lakers chances.

Lamar Odom. He will come off the bench and get a lot of time on Dirk Nowitzki, he gives the Lakers another long defender to throw at him and one more comfortable out on the perimeter as a defender than Gasol. Both the Lakers and Mavericks bring scoring off the bench with their sixth men, but the Lakers with Odom bring more size and that can be key for Los Angeles.

THREE KEY MAVERICKS

Tyson Chandler. He is potentially the difference maker in this series — he needs to be able to mark Andrew Bynum and still be a fierce help defender in the paint. He is going to have to own the boards. He was a dominant force in the Portland series (especially Game 5) but he going to have to play like that or better for Dallas to have any chance in this series.

Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously, Dirk is at the heart of the Mavericks offense. But he also will have to guard Pau Gasol on defense. Nowitzki would like to make Gasol work so hard on defense that his offense is less efficient. He’ll also have to rebound and make plays inside to negate the Lakers size up front. He was a force against Portland but he will have to play better this round.

Jason Terry. Last time these two met Terry’s biggest play was to push Steve Blake then start a little ruckus that got Matt Barnes ejected. He’ll have to do more than that now. No, we don’t mean push Kobe, we mean scoring. Terry carried the Mavericks offense for stretches against Portland with his quickness and shot making, and he will have to step up and score a lot against the Lakers to give them an edge in bench play.

OUTLOOK

The last two times these two teams met in the regular season, the Lakers dominated and won handily. In the second game the Lakers even sent a little message, having Pau Gasol in the game late in the fourth quarter well after the game had been decided. The Lakers wanted Dallas to know who was the alpha dog.

The Lakers went through a slump since then, but seemed to get that footing back at the end of the Hornets series. Los Angeles looked like a contender again.

Dallas played physical ball against Portland, but they have struggled to stand up to the Lakers brand of physicality in recent contests. The Lakers are longer, a little more athletic and with that more skilled. Plus, they have traditionally struggled to stop Kobe Bryant from going off (remember te 62 points in three quarters). It’s a tough combo to deal with. Dallas just doesn’t run into that and it throws them off their game. Dallas may be the deeper team, but that is not going to help much now when the stars can play 40 minutes a night.

Dallas could use some big minutes from Roddy Beaubois, who is back from another injury and had an off regular season but who provides the kind of quickness and playmaking the Lakers struggle to contain at the point. If not from Beaubois, Dallas needs to get that from somewhere.

Dallas in beating Portland stood up to a team that wants to be physical and Dallas closed the series out by winning on the road. That is what Dallas has to do to have a chance in the next round, they just have to do it against a much better team than they just faced.

PREDICTION

Dallas can push the Lakers when Tyson Chandler is playing well. But unless they get something from Beaubois or some unexpected offense from somewhere, it’s hard to see how this ends much differently than the teams’ regular season meetings. Given the Lakers penchant for closing series out on the road, we’ll say

Lakers in 6.

  1. purdueman - Apr 29, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Ho-hum. The lucky Lakers get yet another mulligan in what figures to be yet another boring series.

  2. passerby23 - Apr 29, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    I don’t know why journalists are obsessed with historical statistics. Dallas has “traditionally struggled to stop Kobe from going off (remember the 62 points through three quarters.” That was in 2006. Different time. Different circumstances. Different personnel. Kobe is a different player. Who cares what Kobe did five years ago? It has no bearing on today.

    That being said, the Lakers should win this series and the deciding factor won’t be Kobe. Much like the Hornets series, the Lakers go as far as their bigs take them.

  3. omniusprime - Apr 29, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Mark Cuban should heed the saying “be careful what you wish for for you may get it and it won’t be what you expected”. Well Mark finally has his playoff date with the Repeat World Champion Lakers and he’s going to find out that he’s wasted a lot of money trying to buy a team that can beat the champs. I can’t wait to see Air Kobe wipe the smile off Cuban’s face as he and his championship gang trash the overpaid overhyped Mavs.

    It will be fun to watch Pau Gasol turn Dirk Nowitzki into Sourkraut while Andrew Bynum turns Chandler into Tyson’s Fried Chicken! What a joke that the Mavs have a deeper team than the Lakers, we’ll see the Killer Bees expose that nonsense for the delusion it is. Lamar Odom will have Jason crying into his Terry towel constantly.

    The Mavs didn’t fare well against the Lakers in March and May is going to be even tougher because the Lakers are now officially in playoff mode and that means they’re the immovable object as well as the irresistible force. The Mavs are just another speedbump along the way to the Laker’s inevitable Threepeat, Air Kobe will the the NBA Finals MVP for the 3rd year running – the only MVP award that matters. The Lakers are the Black Hole that teams fall into but can never escape!

    • bigdogarita - Apr 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Love the typical Laker dolt perspective. You are probably one of the idiots who jumps on burning cars when the Lakers of old won championships. Kinda pity you and you rose-colored view of your under-achieving team. I live in socal and I can tell you, Lakers fans are some of the most bandwagon fans in the WORLD. You know it’s true, haha. Dirk is gonna smoke you like some brats…

      • efueshe - Apr 29, 2011 at 5:28 PM

        I love how you say that as though he’s ever made it far enough to face us the last 3 years… sit down and stop being bitter cause you’ve been a miserable basketball fan for 2 years.

  4. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 29, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Don’t be surprised if the Lakers lay back and let Dallas win a couple games. They are already looking forward to round 3 and by letting Dallas win a couple, they will fill their next opponent with false hope!

    You cannot deny that is their plan. It worked against New Orleans!

    • delius1967 - Apr 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      “The lucky Lakers get yet another mulligan in what figures to be yet another boring series.”

      “the Lakers are now officially in playoff mode and that means they’re the immovable object as well as the irresistible force.”

      “Don’t be surprised if the Lakers lay back and let Dallas win a couple games.”

      Wow, that would be mighty big of them to soothe Dallas’ ego that way.

      You Laker fans crack me up with how you talk about them, like they are gods sitting astride the basketball world, yawning and occasionally condescending to look down upon the mere mortals who inhabit the other teams, giving them a reassuring pat on the back while holding back a grin. While other teams sweat and toil, the Lakers blow past them with the greatest of ease. Heck, the Lakers are showing what great sportsmen they truly are by even bothering to play the game.

      Later this year: Bynum will solve the Libyan crisis by personally taking over for Gaddafi; Kobe Bryant will cut THREE records and become the first person to tie himself for “Album of the Year” at the Grammies, as well as winning the same honor at the Latin Grammies (the third album being a two-record Spanish language version of the first two); Phil Jackson will win the Indianapolis 500 driving the team bus; Pau Gasol will return to his native Spain and reestablish the monarchy by overwhelming demand from the good people of that country; and the rest of the team will rebuild the Japanese nuclear infrastructure with a design that guarantees its safety for the next 100 years.

      The truth is that Dallas is more than capable of beating the Lakers in this series. The other truth is they probably won’t, because Dallas is even more capable of sabotaging themselves, and the Lakers are not Portland; they are a tough, experienced team, and Dallas can’t get away with the mental mistakes that kill them every year in the playoffs.

    • purdueman - Apr 29, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      If this year isn’t the poster child for the NBA needing to follow the lead of the NHL by “re-seeding” teams after every playoff round, I don’t know what is! Then again, we ALL know that David Stern desperately wants the Lakers to continue to advance in order to feed the TV ratings beast that follows them around.

      JOMO, but the Lakers should be playing Memphis in the 2nd round, not the hapless constantly under-performing, over-rated Mavericks!

      • davidly - Apr 29, 2011 at 5:25 PM

        Not so fast there, boilerdude. Keep in mind that a number one seed has NEVER lost in the first round when winning game two. Hahahahah.

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