NBA Playoffs 2011: 8 Reasons the Dallas Mavericks Will Defeat the L.A. Lakers
Despite the fact that Dallas and L.A. have been two of league's best teams over the past 10-12 years, they've yet to play each other in the playoffs during this span.
There are plenty of great characters in this novel.
I see this series going at least six games, if not seven, with it being a dogfight throughout.
Make no mistake: the Lakers are the favorites, but the Mavericks have a fighting chance, one that I believe will come to fruition when the Mavericks take the series in six games.
No. 8: The Dallas Bench Is Simply Better Than L.A.'s
Jason Terry. Juan Jose Berea. Brendan Haywood. Peja Stoyakovic.
Not exactly Murderer's Row, but a formidable group of role players, that's for sure.
Terry is still his reliable self, having averaged 15.8 points this season, including 17.3 in the first round versus Portland. Berea provides a spark off the bench, Haywood can help to spell Chandler inside, and Stoyakovic, while past his prime, can still hit the open jumper.
Other than Lamar Odom, there's reason to doubt whether or not Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake will perform when needed for L.A.
That doubt certainly exists with the Mavericks bench, but, if I had to choose between Dallas' bench and L.A.'s bench, I'd most certainly take the Mavericks.
No. 7: Jason Kidd Will Run Circles Around Derek Fisher
If the Lakers have a glaring deficiency, it's at point guard.
I've always thought the Lakers' weakness at point guard would eventually catch up with them, and I believe that time has finally arrived.
Derek Fisher had trouble with Chris Paul in Round 1, and, I believe he'll have plenty of trouble guarding Jason Kidd. Kidd, though not the player he used to be, can still log heavy minutes and spread the ball around, seeing as he averaged 8.2 assists this season.
And, Kidd, who will turn 39 in three weeks, knows that time is running out on his chance to finally win a championship.
If Kidd can shoot like he did against Portland (48.1 percent FG, 39.5 percent 3FG), he will allow the Mavericks to spread to floor and get open shots.
No. 6: There Are Reasons to Be Concerned About the Lakers' Health
Kobe Bryant sprained his ankle in Game 4 against New Orleans, and, at 32, his body is not what it used to be. At this point in his career, there are concerns about his durability. That being said, he did come out with a vengeance in Game 5 against the Hornets, scoring 19 points of 8-of-13 shooting.
There is also Andrew Bynum, who has a history of injury problems. Can he really be expected to hold up for a six- or seven-game series?
We shall see.
No. 5: Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson Will Give Kobe Problems on Defense
If Kobe Bryant has a great series, it's going to be difficult for the Mavericks to pull this one off.
That's why Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson need to make him work for everything, and hope that, over time, he wears down and can't get through the series completely healthy.
If both Marion and Stevenson can keep Bryant in check, I like the Mavericks chances of pulling off the upset.
No. 4: Dirk Nowitzki Will Give a Stellar Performance in This Series
Dirk Nowitzki was excellent in the first round versus Portland.
He averaged 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
He'll have to be just as amazing against the World Champions, seeing as they're a better team than the Trail Blazers.
The knock on Nowitzki over the years has been that he's soft, and that he doesn't perform in the clutch like he should. If he can reverse those trends, I give the Mavericks the upper hand in the series.
No. 3: Tyson Chandler Will Have His Way with the Lakers Big Men Up Front
One of the reasons the Lakers were able to defeat the Hornets in Round 1 is that the frontline of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum was able to wear down New Orleans big men Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry. Throughout the course of the six games, the Lakers big men pounded the ball inside, crashed the boards and made life a living hell for the Hornets underneath.
If Dallas is to have a chance of winning this series, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood are going to have to hold their own against Gasol and Bynum.
I believe that Chandler will be up to the challenge, but I'm unsure about Haywood.
No. 2: After Kobe Bryant, Is There Anyone the Lakers Can Legitimately Count On?
Other than Kobe Bryant, the Lakers rely primarily on Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest.
A slew of quality players, to say the least, but, there are legitimate questions that remain as to whether or not they will perform in crunch time.
Artest is totally unpredicatable, Gasol is coming off a series in which he shot just 41.1 percent from the field, Bynum's health is always a concern and, to be honest, I've never been overly impressed with Odom. Don't get me wrong: he's a good, solid player who is versatile and possesses a variety of skills, but I've just always questioned whether or not he has "it."
No.1: These Are Not the Same Old Mavericks
These Mavericks play good, sound defense, as you would expect from any team coached by Rick Carlisle.
They've never had a presence like Tyson Chandler inside and, against Portland, they showed resilience, responding to their Game 4 collapse with a convincing victory in Game 5.
Who knows? Maybe this will finally be the year the Mavericks win it all.