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The Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks are two of the most evenly matched teams in the playoffs this year, and it should be absolutely remarkable to see these two go at it for what could be an absolutely remarkable series.
How the Mavericks Can Win This Series
Dallas needs to shake this mantra that it can’t win it all. Sure, we know that the Mavs have only been to one NBA Finals in team history, and we know that Dirk Nowitzki is a notorious loveable loser in Big D, but there has to be a point that everyone has to believe that it is good enough to knock off the two time defending champs.
There was definitely the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Mavs against the Portland Trail Blazers. The good was certainly none other than Nowitzki, who averaged 27.3 points per game in the first round. The bad came from the likes of Tyson Chandler, who averaged just 6.5 points per game, and Jose Barea, who averaged 5.2 points per game. The ugly was that big time bomb dropped at the end of Game 4 in which a 20+ point lead was blown.
At some point, Caron Butler might be available in this series, and if he is, that could make a big time difference. The man that really stepped up in the scoring effort in Round 1 was Jason Kidd, who averaged 11.7 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. Jason Terry was a fantastic sixth man, shooting a team best 48.8 percent and coming up with 17.3 points per game. Similar is going to be required out of these two, but the rest of the role players need to step up to the table to be able to beat the Lakers.
How the Lakers Can Win This Series
Sometimes it seems like everything that Head Coach Phil Jackson touches turns to gold. After all, these two have three handfuls worth of rings between them, including a slew of them together. Bryant just seems to always have the right stuff to win it all, and he can go off for 80 points in a game if he is really given the chance. Bryant averaged 22.5 points per game in the first round, something that is really not very Kobe Bryant-esque. He’ll inevitably do better in this series.
Pau Gasol really didn’t do much in the way of scoring or rebounding ,at least by his standards, and without him stepping up to the table to be the big time second scorer and top glass cleaner on this team, the Lakers could be in some trouble. Gasol averaged 13.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the first round of the playoffs, and the truth of the matter is that Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were the ones that picked up the slack for him. These two combined for 27.2 points and 16.3 rebounds per game against the Hornets.
The other key to this might be the play of Derek Fisher. Fisher averaged 9.3 points per game over double what he averaged in the regular season this year, and if he can shoot 52.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three point land like he did over the course of the last two weeks, it would really be a tremendous help for Jackson and the gang. Ron Artest also averaged 11.8 points per game in the first round.
The Last Word – For as good as the Mavericks are, and for as even as the 57 wins that both of these teams had in the regular season seem to put them, the Lakers are the better team, and they’re certainly the better side in the postseason. Bryant and the gang just have all of the right stuff, and that’s not something that Nowitzki and his band of Mavericks can boast about. It’ll be another painful crash out of the playoffs for Dallas, as the Lakers maintain a stronghold on the Western Conference and move just one step closer to the grandest stage of them all yet again. NBA Playoffs Picks: Lakers in 6