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NBA Playoffs: Game 4, where we find out if the Lakers care

May 8, 2011, 2:32 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three Getty Images

We can talk about matchups — like how the Lakers need to get some kind of production out of the point guard spot — but that’s not really the biggest key in Game 4 in Dallas on Sunday.

It’s which Lakers team shows up.

More than anything, the Lakers have looked mentally fatigued in this series. Which is something that could come trying to make a fourth straight NBA finals. You see it when Lakers are not helping the helper on defense, when they fail to execute at the end of games. These are things the Lakers have done in the past, even this season, but have stopped now. The Mavericks are pushing them, playing great basketball, but the Lakers of previous years responded to those kind of challenges with a renewed fire and energy that this team just has not shown.

Do those Lakers fight in Game 4, or do they roll over?

I expect fight, but we’ve been expecting that for a while now and not seen it.

The Mavs will play hard — this series seems to bring them a sense or redemption. For the 2006 finals. For the 2007 collapse in the first round to Golden State. For all the playoff losses. It may not feel like redemption in the locker room, but they are sure playing like it does. And for the fans, this would be the sweetest of victories.

In terms of strategy, it’s nothing new. The Lakers need to get the ball inside to Andrew Bynum. He was the best Laker on the floor in Game 3 but he got no touches, no shots in the final 10 minutes. That’s not on Bynum, that’s on the Lakers guards for not getting him the ball. The Lakers more than any other team seem to go away from what works for them when the game gets tight.

For the rest of the Lakers, they need to get a good game from their point guards (good luck with that), they need a rested Ron Artest to take on some offensive load. And they need Pau Gasol. The one from last year. Credit Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas for playing good defense, but Gasol is capable of being one of those players (like Dirk) where the defense doesn’t matter when he’s going. He just has not been going this playoffs.

The Mavs just need to keep running their pick-and-roll action that the Lakers defense can’t solve. They need to be tough inside. They need Dirk to be Dirk. Basically, they just need to keep doing what they have been doing.

If they do that, it seems not to matter what Lakers team shows up.

  1. Brian Murphy - May 8, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    “Game 4, where we find out if the Lakers care”

    And after 24 minutes, not so much.

  2. aboogy123456 - May 8, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    “I expect fight, but we’ve been expecting that for a while now and not seen it.”

    did you watch game 3? They fought so hard that game and it makes sense to be real down after losing and fighting that hard. The mavs just finished the game and played great, had nothing to do with the lakers not fighting. Give the mavs a little credit, all your articles look for an easy story and you barely seem to know what’s actually going on.

  3. captainwisdom8888 - May 8, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    THESE LAKERS GOT SPANKED. THEY RESPOND BY CHEAPSHOTTING THE SMALLEST PLAYER ON THE COURT….AGAIN.

  4. liljam84 - May 8, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    go mavs

  5. nekelund - May 8, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Watching the game. Not only does LA not care, but they are reverting to their thuggish ways, with Odom throwing a flagrant elbow. I guess he was upset with the attention Artest got for his clothesline/facemask. The best is how the commentators are stunned, given how “professional” the Lakers are. Between Kobe (incessant trade demands, refusal to play with other stars, ball hogging, gay slurs), Artest (Malice in the Palace and similar stupidity) and Odom (dirty elbows and assorted thuggery), this pathetic display of sportsmanship seems appropriate. The commentators need to wipe the stars out of their eyes and get a clue, as the inmates are running the nuthouse that is the LA Lakers and have been for a long, long time.

  6. passerby23 - May 8, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Three bush league plays by the reigning champs – two of which were on the smallest player. Weak and classless. Take your shots like a champion, Lakers.

    What happens now? Fisher has looked ancient. Artest looks old and expendable. Barnes and Blake gave them very little. Do you try and deal for Dwight Howard? The Lakers have some good parts to move. Going for it again with this aging roster isn’t going to get it done. Wholesale changes are necessary, in my opinion.

  7. bj1980 - May 8, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Mental fatigue?!?

    If you look really close Bill Russell’s statue is sneering.

  8. fouldwimmerlaik - May 9, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    The Lakers don’t HAVE to care….they are the Lakers!

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