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NBA Playoffs 2011: 8 Reasons the Dallas Mavericks Will Defeat the L.A. Lakers

Yaneek SmithContributor IIIMay 3, 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011: 8 Reasons the Dallas Mavericks Will Defeat the L.A. Lakers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers glides to the basket against Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA basketball game at Staples Center on October 30, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER:
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    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.

    In fact, the last time these two teams played one another in the postseason was in 1988, when the Lakers outlasted the Mavericks in a seven-game affair in the Western Conference Finals.

    There are plenty of great characters in this novel.

    Kobe Bryant. Dirk Nowitzki. Phil Jackson. Mark Cuban. Andrew Bynum. Tyson Chandler.

    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

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    DALLAS, TX - APRIL 25:  Guard Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after a three-point shot against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2011 at American Airlin
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 21:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against  the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2011 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    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

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 31:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers winces in pain after landing on his ankle wrong against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 31, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER:
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    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

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 27:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives the ball past Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 23:  LaMarcus Aldrdige #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers defends Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2011 at the Rose Garden in Portland,
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    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

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts to split the defense of Shawn Marion #0 and Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expr
    Harry How/Getty Images

    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?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17: Pau Gasol #16 and Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers walk off the court as the New Orleans Hornets celebrate after Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2011 at Staples Center
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 27:  Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks high fives teammates Jose Barea #11, Shawn Marion #0 and Jason Kidd #2 after scoring against the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    These Mavericks play good, sound defense, as you would expect from any team coached by Rick Carlisle.

    But, most importantly, they're tougher, they're stronger, and there is a swagger they carry that has not been there before.

    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.

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