NBA Playoffs: L.A. Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks: Who Owns the Showdown?

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NBA Playoffs: L.A. Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks: Who Owns the Showdown?
Harry How/Getty Images
March 31, 2011: Matt Barnes and Jason Terry talk trash in L.A. Referee Joey Crawford could be assigned again to clean up.

Can the Dallas Mavericks—after again getting over the hump of the first round—win the NBA Western Conference championship?  They’ll try to Tyson the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Will it be enough to overcome the mighty Lakers—the NBA team of the 2000s and bidding to be the team of the 2010s?  That remains to be seen.

Read on and you’ll find the truthful answers to many of your questions regarding the Western Conference playoffs.  The semifinals kicked off with Memphis and Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon.  The Grizz won big.

Starting Monday, the Lakers and the Mavericks will meet in a best-of-seven series for the right to play in the Western Conference Finals.  It’s viewed as a matchup, by me, as one worthy of the NBA Finals.  It speaks to how strong the Western Conference is.

It often happens in the semifinals, where the winner is considered to be the favorite to win the NBA Finals.  At least it was whenever the Lakers met the Spurs in this millenium.  But those days are over.  The Spurs are long gone, eliminated by Memphis last Friday.

After hearing the news, the Lakers probably took a deep breath and grinned for a few seconds before they turned their focus back on the Mavericks.  Dallas is a basketball team L.A. has mind control over—like the character “D-Bo” had in the ‘hood, in the classic movie Friday.

In the movie, “D-Bo” is a bully on a neighborhood block between Normandy and Western presumably in South Central, Los Angeles.  Reminds me of how “Z-Bo” (Zach Randolph) bullied the Spurs in the first round. 

The movie stars L.A. Lakers fans Ice Cube, Chris Tucker and “Tiny Zeus” Lester.  If you haven’t seen it, then go get it, and you’ll understand what I mean by mind control.

Otherwise just watch the melee game the Lakers and Mavs played this season.  Wannabe “Jet” Jason Terry shoved Steve Blake down after the referee’s whistle, while Blake was driving the left block.  The Lakers ran to Blake’s defense, while the Mavs watched.

A former low post bully in the NBA, NBA TV analyst Chris Webber concurred.

According to C-Webb, he was getting text messages pumped to his smart phone by NBA players who were agreeing with his comments about L.A. punking Dallas in the melee.

 Webber said Dirk Nowitzki should be fined for basically punking out and not helping Terry.

Thanks to a report on Sportsgrid.com—the page behind the link above—Webber’s comments have been immortalized on the net.  No retort of a valid nature to the allegations had been put forth by a player, or anybody from the Dallas organization—until the owner did.

Is anyone surprised?

Neither I nor Webber are.  Mark Cuban—the team owner—came to the rescue through print.  It wasn’t one of the players.  The players themselves can now act big and bad—and they probably will in game one—but it’s too late. 

The Lakers pulled their hole cards.

The score of the last Dallas-Lakers meeting in itself reflected undeniably the beat down handed by the Lakers to an NBA power—again on national television—except this time the Lakers picked a Thursday night for a fight.

They’d beaten the Spurs down—leading by 29 points at halftime—in a nationally televised game in San Antonio on a Sunday afternoon.  I labeled the game played on March 6 as  “The Alamo March Massacre of 2011.” 

On March 31, the skirmish involving Jason Terry, Steve Blake and the Lakers showed the Lakers are much tougher physically and emotionally than the Mavericks—point blank.

Webber showed footage of the Lakers coming to Blake’s aid, while the Mavs stayed away after Terry got shoved.

The big, bad Lakers didn’t even need Ron Artest in the action.  Matt Barnes was enough, according to Webber—who showed more footage to prove his argument—to check the Mavs.

Dirk and the rest of Dallas didn’t budge to defend Terry during the “brawl.”  Barnes also shoved a clip-board holding, suit and tie, slippery shoes-wearing Mavs assistant coach—earning a suspension.  He missed the rest of the blowout victory. 

But he sent a message to the Mavericks and the rest of the NBA—whoever would claim the Lakers are soft.  OKC’s center Kendrick Perkins is known for saying it.  Let’s see how he reacts against Zach Randolph in their matchup.

Webber later gave his voice-over analysis while footage rolled of the Mavs passing up opportunities for hard fouls on the Lakers in the aftermath of the scrum.  It was funny. 

The NBA veteran and solid analyst said the Lakers had already beaten the Mavs mentally—and has text messages to show his supporters agree. 

This means big NBA ramifications and repercussions for Dallas as the two teams meet in the second round of the playoffs.  Starting center Tyson Chandler is from the Los Angeles area and not afraid to mix it up.

But he’s going up against big Andrew Bynum.  Not to promote the value of a good flagrant foul, but some NBA players fear coming through the lane against Bynum.  I don’t blame them.

They know they could end up with a partially collapsed lung—like Gerald Wallace did against Andrew, or worse.  Andrew is mighty strong—ask Michael Beasley—and he protects the lane like a Rottweiler does a royal yard. 

A junkyard dog of a player, Shawn Marion knows Bynum is a human of a specimen to be reckoned with.  Dirk Nowitzky does, too.  He probably has his own secret prediction.  Here’s my very public one:

 

Prediction:

The Mavericks won’t have an answer for Kobe Bryant or Andrew Bynum.  The “Black Mamba” went off for 62 in three quarters against the Avery Johnson Mavericks.  Kobe 62, Dallas Mavericks 61.  It’ll be more scoring at will for the Mamba.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
January 17, 2005: In L.A., Chris Webber flashes his trademark smile. He had a similar smirk when discussing Dirk on TNT.
Nevermind it happened when Kobe was younger.  He’s still capable of scoring 30 points in a quarter against Dallas—even if Caron Butler decides to play and guard him.

Otherwise it’ll be a hodge of Mavericks guarding Kobe, but they’ll all fail to slow him down.  He’ll also have enough energy to guard Jason Kidd on the low blocks—shutting down the Mavs. 

Don’t blame Mamba for putting up the 62.  If you had the skill—and the great Smush Parker as the No. 3 scoring option on your squad like Kobe did, you’d do it too.  Those were the days for the Lakers and Phil Jackson to go searching their way through the West.

Nowadays they’re as mean as grizzly bears and are thunderously trailblazing mavericks—if that makes sense.  If it didn’t make sense to you, then make sense of this:

The Lakers are going to win the Western Conference matchup with Dallas (4-2) and go on to win the NBA Finals.  Charles Barkley picked the Mavs to win in six games, but he didn’t sound convincing.

The Lakers convincingly smashed the Mavericks in the last two regular season games—close to must wins for both teams.  Luke Walton, Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith could be big—the longer the series goes down the lane.

If Jason Kidd goes off posting up Derek Fisher, then so be it.  As long as the lane is protected from slashers and cutters off the post up and the rim is protected, the Lakers will be all right.  Let the Kidd get his.

Kobe Bryant will do what he wants, the Lakers bigs will play off each other, dominate the paint and Andrew Bynum will show the world he is one of the best centers on the planet. 

You heard it here first.

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