Five reasons the Lakers should want the Mavericks
As Phil Jackson noted before Sunday's 107-100 win over the Mavericks at Staples, it's a little early to start drawing up backets for the Western Conference playoff race, not with six teams separated by 2.5 games.
Still, though, there's still a very solid chance that when round one rolls around, it'll be LA vs. the Cubans. This would be a good thing for the Lakers, for a variety of reasons. Certainly no harm in taking an early peek at a potential playoff pairing, right?
Click below for five reasons why the Lakers would love to see Dallas to kick off the postseason...
- The Lakers can cover Dirk Nowitzki. Between Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the Lakers have two bigs with the mobility to chase Dirk around the floor, bother his shots, and otherwise force him to play outside his comfort zone. After Sunday's 6-20 showing, Nowitzki is shooting all of 34.6% from the floor this season against the Lakers. Last season he was better, but save a 13-19 performance in April Nowitzki never really went off on LA. The Mavs need their best player not just to be good, but fairly epic to challenge LA in a seven game series. I don't see how that happens.
- The Mavs can't cover Pau Gasol. Dirk can't, and neither can Erick Dampier. Entering Sunday's game, Pau was 15-27 against Dallas, and only improved on that figure with his 12-13 effort. He has the length to shoot over Nowitzki, and Dampier isn't quick enough to body him up when Gasol is facing the basket. Rick Carlisle was forced at times to double Gasol when he caught the ball, which is death to opposing defenses, just as it is when Kobe is doubled high above the arc.
- Jason Terry and Jason Kidd in the backcourt mean good matchups defensively for LA. As Andy pointed out in yesterday's live blog, with Kidd on the floor next to Jose Juan Barea, Derek Fisher was able to cover Barea and leave Trevor Ariza to guard Kidd. Kobe, meanwhile, slid over and marked Antoine Wright at the three. When Terry is on the floor, it's the same situation. Fish (or Jordan Farmar) aren't at a size disadvantage when sliding over to guard a two. Even when Josh Howard is back in the Dallas lineup (he's missed all three Lakers/Mavs tilts this year), moving Wright back to the starting two-guard spot, it won't much matter because Wright really isn't a true scoring threat and Dallas finishes with Terry on the floor, anyway. And that the Lakers can flip flop Ariza and Kobe on Kidd and Howard is a nice luxury.
- The Mavs are currently 16-19 on the road. That doesn't change just because it's the playoffs.
- Kobe Bryant. Dude owns the Mavs to the point that he might as well sign the checks instead of Mark Cuban. Last season, he averaged 36.5 points and 54.2% shooting in four games against Big D. This season, he's "slumped," down to 53% from the floor and 30 points a night. The return of Howard will help, if only because it gives Wright a buddy on the Kobe-guarding island, but not enough to make a large difference, particularly if the Mavs struggle with Gasol.
Put it all together, and it's certainly more ideal than a date against the Jazz or Blazers. (Denver is welcome to slide into the eighth spot.)