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Matchups to watch in Lakers-Mavericks series

Photo: The Dallas Mavericks will often finish a game with (from left) power forward Dirk Nowitzki, reserve guard Jason Terry, point guard Jason Kidd, small forward Shawn Marion and center Tyson Chandler, providing a powerful combination of size, athleticism and offensive firepower. Credit: Mike Stone / Reuters 1. Lakers' offense vs. Dallas' zone

It's not usual for NBA teams to play zone defense, but the Mavericks have added a few extra wrinkles this season in hopes that it takes advantage in Dallas' length with two 7-footers in Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki and a wide wingspan in Shawn Marion.

The Mavericks' statistical impact on defense is fairly modest, allowing a 10th-best 96.01 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot an 8th-best 45% from the field. But given the Lakers' initial struggles playing against Phoenix's zone defense last season in the Western Conference Finals, it's imperative that the Lakers don't make the same mistakes in attacking it.

"Just getting the ball inside through penetration and through post play," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant offered as a solution to attacking the zone. "Swinging the ball around the perimeter will only get you so far."

The Lakers didn't exactly follow that formula against Phoenix, using the zone as an excuse to fire open outside shots, which led to stagnant movement. That's why it's critical that the Lakers play against the zone exactly the way Bryant and forward Pau Gasol outlined it.

"Moving the ball and working the ball inside-out," Gasol said. "That's how you open it up with penetration with a pass or a dribble."

2. Pau Gasol vs. Dirk Nowitzki  Gasol struggled at times covering Hornets forward Carl Landry because he allowed too many open looks into the lane and failed in consistently forcing him to become a jump shooter. Forcing Nowitzki to shoot jumpers won't be the right approach, considering he's averaged 27.3 points, thanks to a solid mid-range jumper and a high free-throw percentage (89%).

"It should be challenging," Gasol said. "He's a very good and productive player."

Nowitzki shows his productivity in various ways, shooting 54% from the restricted area and 46% in mid-range jumpers, according to NBA Statscube. Lakers forward Lamar Odom added that Nowitzki poses an extra danger because he often posts up in the middle of the court instead of on the block, which would force Gasol to play Nowitzki differently than any other post player. Considering that the Lakers often emphasize having their front line to remain close to the basket, Gasol will have to extend his defensive range to offset Nowitzki's production.

"It's a big challenge for Pau," Bryant said. "It's different than guarding anybody else that he's played. Dirk can post up, can face up, can handle [the ball] and obviously he shoots the three ball. It's a big challenge defensively. "But it's a challenge for Dirk down at the other end as well. You're not going to find another guy in the league like Pau that can shoot with both hands, and post up and face up as well.

"It's a very interesting matchup."

3. Bryant/Derek Fisher vs. Jason Kidd

It's very rare the the 36-year-old Fisher can tout being the younger guard out of his defensive assignment, but he can boast about that fact matching up with the 38-year-old Kidd. Fisher won't have to worry about tiring his legs chasing a speedy Chris Paul through endless pick-and-rolls, but that doesn't minimize the stakes.

"Even though you don't strategize for him offensively," Fisher said, "you still have to play him as a an impact player because of how he plays the game."

That's because Kidd's impact points more to him running the offense than actually scoring. Kidd averaged 21 points and hit nine three-pointers in the first two games against Portland, but his 14-assist effort in Game 5 epitomized the danger he brings on offense.

"He runs their team extremely well and is one of the best to ever do it," Bryant said of Kidd. "He hits timely shots and when he scores when a team needs big baskets. He might have four points, but they might be the biggest four points of the whole night. We have to know when to defend him in terms of attacking him offensively."

4. Andrew Bynum/Lamar Odom vs. Tyson Chandler

Both Bynum and Odom have familiarity with Chanlder, with Bynum saying he worked out with Chandler a "few summers ago" and Odom playing with him on Team USA during the 2010 FIBA World Championships.

"It's always fun competing to play guys with you played in the summer or if you call each other friends growing up as a kid," Odom said. "It's always a little bit more fun to beat a so-called friend."

The Lakers' frontline played more aggressively and physical during their first-round series against New Orleans, a critical factor considering Chandler believes he'll withstand it and his revelation that he's always dreamed of beating the Lakers. Bynum doesn't believe the Mavericks acquiring Chandler or Brendan Haywood validates Mark Cuban's contention that Dallas has enough size to beat the Lakers, but their ability to spread the floor still adds a new wrinkle.

"We're both going at it," Bynum said of he and Chandler. "Offensively, he's going for lobs, setting screens and going for the boards. It's a lull for me defensively because I have to watch him all the time and watch the ball."

5. Matt Barnes/Steve Blake vs. Jason Terry

The storyline has been pretty well established, with Terry shoving Steve Blake in the Lakers' 110-82 victory March 31 against Dallas prompting Barnes to intervene and ultimately serve a one-game suspension. The back-and-forth has continued with Terry questioning Barnes' toughness, Barnes touting his role in Golden State's first-round upset over the Mavericks in 2007 as an eighth-seed and also serves as an appropriate backdrop to Barnes' recently released T-Shirts titled, "Matt Barnes will kill you...if Ron Artest doesn't first."

There's no question that contentiousness will set the tone, but from an X's and O's standpoint it's critical how Barnes defends Terry. He finished a distance second behind Odom for the league's sixth man of the year award by averaging  15.8 points and 4.1 assists in the regular season and 17.3 points and 3.8 assists so far in the playoffs. Against the Lakers, Terry shot 75% in shots that came from the restricted area and 43% from three-point range, while going only 34% from the field off mid-range jumpers. It wouldn't hurt for Barnes and Blake to carry that chippy play, but it's equally important to make sure they close out on him in the perimeter and receive the proper help in stopping his shots in the lane.

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: The Dallas Mavericks will often finish a game with (from left) power forward Dirk Nowitzki, reserve guard Jason Terry, point guard Jason Kidd, small forward Shawn Marion and center Tyson Chandler, providing a powerful combination of size, athleticism and offensive firepower. Credit: Mike Stone / Reuters

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===------ === ------====
/_____l______l__ ___\____
ll l ----- Lakers 4 - Mavs 0 --------]
L___(0)l______l__ ____l(0) J

JovBatz24 - In my opinion, THE LAKERS WILL SWEEP THE MAVS.
Caliphilosopher - Lake Show in 2 - they beat Dallas so badly that anything and everything "Californian" or "West-Coast" gets banned from the state of Texas for 3 months.
segeboy - see our bigs drawing the attention and Kobe burning them in the first two games ...I'm calling a sweep...
LakerTom - Game 7 would be played on the 15th. That would be a great game for us to watch when you come north. But… sorry, Lew. Lakers in 4...
Xeoh - Lakers in 4!



===------ === ------====
/_____l______l__ ___\____
ll l ----- Lakers 4 - Mavs 1 --------]
L___(0)l______l__ ____l(0) J

LEWSTRS - Lakers in 5...we close this at home...
cofm99 - Add me to the 5 bus...
Lakemelody - I say Lakers 4-1.
KobeMVP888: Lakers in 5.
VtLaker - Hooter Girls...yeah yeah okay I'm on board
mclyne - LAKERS IN 5! We have officially gained our swagger back and will dominate the soft Mavs for four out of the five it will take.
Wallace - Just got my bus pass. I'm on board. It will be another week before I return home from Thailand
Fatty - Who predicts the Lakers in 5 LEWSTERS.
Maxximo - For the last time...Lakers 4 vs Dallas 1
Purple & Gold Reign - My newly cleaned and polished-up Crystal Ball tells me the Los Angeles Lakers will crush the Dallas Mavericks in 5 thrilling, hard-fought games.
LakerSean - Been away for a while, it's good to be back with the Laker Mafia. we're a family, once you're in, you never leave. Lakers in 5.
NewMexicoLL - Put me on the Lakers in 5 Bandwagon...Think they learned a lesson with the Hornets! I Love Our Lakers!!!!!!!!!!!
Tim-4-Show - In the end, we're far superior inside, and they really don't have much of an answer for Kobe.
The Outlaw - I won't be surprised if this series is over in 5. I don't think the Lakers will be sleeping on any teams from here on out.
Diandra - Lew- Lakers in 5
yellowfever - Lakers in 5! Or 6 if the refs screw us on the road!
LALakerz213 - Lakers in 5! count em...



===------ === ------====
/_____l______l__ ___\____
ll l ----- Lakers 4 - Mavs 2 --------]
L___(0)l______l__ ____l(0) J

LRob - Sorry Cubes, your Mavs are on the tracks and the Laker Express is smoking thru.
OCLEZY - But the Lakers are the more physical team with Bynum up front,and Artest, i'll take Lakers in 6.
Edwin Gueco - Lew, I treat Dallas with respect than NO, so I pick Lakers in 6, I believe in destiny and I also believe in big business. lol
truongcali - Lakers in 6 baby !!!
Art - Once again, the Lakers finish it off in 6.
D(erek)J(eter) - These are still our goofy Lakers, Lakers in 6.
hobbitmage - Lewsters Lakers in 6.
Desi - Lakers over Mavs in 6 (due to lack of motivation; they own Dallas)
longtimelakerlover - I'm looking forward to a GREAT series between these two clubs. I say Lakers in six
Lakeshowinphx - Marion he's an "energy guy" and scares me more than dirk and jason terry. Lakers in 6!
Magic Phil - Put me in the Lakers in 6 bandwagon. Gracias.
jefe101 - Lakers in 6 - while allowing their opponent the customary split at Staples in either Game 1 or 2.
ChicNstu - Lakers in 6. We have the better 6th man but they have a deeper bench.



===------ === ------====
/_____l______l__ ___\____
ll l ----- Lakers 4 - Mavs 3 --------]
L___(0)l______l__ ____l(0) J

LakersRule(Amit) - I think Dallas matches up well with LA..and they have certain definite advantages over us...Lakers in 7.
Kobeayashimarue - Cuban built this team to match up with the we'll see. Glad we have HC, I'm thinking 7 games for sure.
Long Time Laker Fan - I have a feeling this is going to be a tough series for the Lakers. I think it'll take them 6 or 7 to get past the Mavericks.

Come aboard...and join a wagon!!!

Marion wears number zero?



He should talk to Gilbert Arenas about how well that whole Agent Zero thing worked out for him...

Dirk versus Pau is a better matchup for Pau than is being proclaimed. Pau forces Dirk to play D and commands a double team. Pau's, outside shot, footwork and mobility gives Dirk problems on D (forces a double most of the time). Pau's length and agility forces Dirk to arch his shots more. Although Dirk can hit those high arcing shots, they are less accurate.

Dirk and Team Germany (which had Kaman who is a better center offensively than Chandler and a defensive presence) lost to Pau and Team Spain (with a Marc Gasol that hadn't evolved his game yet) in Beijing (72-59).

LO will also give Dirk trouble on D and his length (so long as he doesn't lean his arms forward allowing Dirk to draw the foul) forces Dirk's shot to be arched more with less accuracy.

I'm not saying each game will be a cakewalk, but a healthy Pau (hopefully his upper respiratory infection is clear) with Drew & LO results in wins against the Mavs like we experienced in March.


I wouldn't take the Mavs for granted

Honestly dirk is too good, he'll have pau in foul trouple in the first half of the game. Plus dallas has two big bodies to throw at bynum now (chandler & haywood). The reason dallas always lost in the first round is because they like to play a lot of 2-3 zone which isnt good in the nba but works great against white's triangle offense. Mavs in 6 games.

LO, Glad to hear Tyson Chicken Chandler is just a "So-Called Friend". Since so-called friends aren't really friends, I know that you won't have any sympathy for him until after they've gone fishin'!


ticking away

the moments that make up a dull day

fritter and waste

the hours in an off-hand way.

For Cryin' Out Loud! Somebody tell that clock to speed up already!!!

Lakers should win game 1. I think the scare of losing game one to New Orleans make the Lakers more prepared to win all game 1s at home now. People say that Tyson Chandler will slow big Bynum down; YEAH RIGHT! I thought the same thing but when they faced in the regular season in the 2nd game Bynum was backing Tyson Chandler down like Dirk Nowitzki was guarding him. He was just bullying Tyson in the paint. I'd rather have Bynum over Tyson easily because Bynum is the closest thing we have to Dwight Howard in this league (even though L.A may go after Dwight this offseason or next). Pau should be back to his 18-20ppg and 9-11rpg because Dirk is not exactly a good solid defender. I think it is nothing but a fluke when people show stats that Kobe struggles against Dallas because no one on Dallas can guard Kobe or really make him work on defense (since they lost Caron Butler). People who may guard Kobe are: Jason Terry(who Kobe can easily score on because Jason Terry admitted he is scared to guard Bryant and let's face it Terry is a bad defender), Ronny Beabouis(WAY TOO SMALL TO GUARD KOBE; EASY POST UP), Shawn Marion (he has the length to bother Kobe's jumpshot, but does not have the foot speed to keep Kobe in front of him), Jason Kidd (Most easy person for Kobe to score on becuz Kidd is old and slow and Kobe is an inch or 2 taller than Kidd). Kobe and Bynum should dominate in this series. Also Odom should consistantly have good games(especially if Dirk is guarding him.) I mentioned what Pau should do. Artest really doesn't have to worry about much except knock down open shots, because Dallas doesn't really have a scorer at small forward.

My guess of the outcome of the series is L.A in 6 games.
*They could win the first 3 games but we all know, when L.A has a big series lead they tend to let up and let a team have confidence and win 1 or 2. So I don't think L.A can sweep them because they'll lose focus. We've all seen it before from Lakers. Everyone(except Kobe) tends to lose focus if they have a huge lead on a team. Lakers play better when they're desperate.

ah, i love the smell of a Lakers playoff game on tv in the morning! great roll call LEWSTRS!

I remember asking Jackson while he was at the podium before one of the NBA Finals games at Staples Center when the baton might be passed to Kobe Bryant from Shaquille O’Neal as primary option for the Lakers.

My exact memory is a little sketchy, but I do recall it was definitely no huge deal to address the topic, so therefore it had to be 2000 – before O’Neal in 2001 publicly urged Bryant to tone it down and Bryant countered by insisting to turn it up.

Jackson’s answer that day was clear.

Bryant surpassing O’Neal? A long, long way off.

Bryant is going to pass O’Neal on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list this week – no small feat considering what a mammoth figure O’Neal has been in league history for so many different great teams. Bryant has 5,187 playoff points to O’Neal’s 5,248.

After that, there’ll be only two left in the yonder: Michael Jordan (5,987) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762). Whether Bryant ever catches them, to be No. 3 behind those guys? Pretty heady stuff.

That’s the same age as Dirk Nowitzki, who wrote off Spain’s 2006 World Championship for the simple reason that Bryant was having knee surgery instead of playing for Team USA that summer.

“His presence alone would have been enough to win the tournament,” Nowitzki told a German publication back then. “That’s the level I see him on. To me, he is the best player in the world right now. That guy doesn’t know fear at all. He doesn’t care. He would have won it for the Americans single-handedly.”

Maybe it boils down to something much simpler.

Maybe Bryant has a special something that drives teammates, wins championships and draws out that primitive sensation that Nowitzki so admired back in 2006.

And maybe Nowitzki just doesn’t have it … because very, very few ever have.

Q. NorCal/Island Priest, after all the slander & hate you've tossed Kobe's
way .... Does it hurt when Phil puts Kobe & MJ on the same plane?
Does it just make you want to vomit when other HOF basketball players
put Kobe on top of the mountain?

For cryin' out loud! Can we get a move-on with this day?

I've got marinated chicken waiting for a hot grill & an excellent zinfindel
waiting for my grubby little hands.


I've got marinated chicken waiting for a hot grill & an excellent zinfindel
waiting for my grubby little hands.

Posted by: hobbitmage | May 02, 2011 at 01:11 PM


jealous. fml =[

someone finally gets it!

I saw something happen in Game 6 against the Hornets that I hadn't seen from this Lakers team since the 2010 playoffs; the light switch had finally flipped on.
You could see it all the player's faces; they looked mean, they looked angry and they looked upset because someone was trying to take something away from them. Something that belonged to them; something that they were not ready to give up.

I could fill this article up with all kinds of stats that will point to a Lakers victory in this series, but I'm not going to, because in the end, stats are essentially meaningless.

[ Nod to KobeMVP888 ]

Blasphemous Rumors: The Mavericks essentially have just as much talent, just as much size and just as much depth as the Lakers do.

The Lakers meanwhile, are seeking their fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. The NBA hasn't seen a team like this since Larry Bird's Celtics went to the Finals four straight times from 1983-1987, winning two and losing two.

If this Lakers team raises the Larry O'Brien trophy again in June, they will go down as the better team historically. Kobe Bryant will surpass everyone in the world not named Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson will head off into the Montana sunset once and for all, as the greatest coach in the history of professional sports.

final snippet:
It's not about the stats anymore, it's simply about a group of guys who are led by a player that wants to win so bad it burns inside and it pains him to lose. All he cares about is winning, and nothing else matters. He doesn't care about home court advantage, he doesn't care about a sprained ankle, he doesn't care about his age, he only cares about one thing and one thing only—winning.

Go BallHog!
Go Lakers!!!

*sniff* my eyes weep w/ pleasure.


So apperantly Ron Artest Dosnt have any mathcup roles today?

Artest/Marion? ill take that as a good matchup

I want to see Paul guarding Dirk and i want him to be very aggressive and shut him down every time he tries to do his jumpers...

god i hate Dallas...


side-note: One of my favorite non-action scenes in a movie.

LL Cool J in the Deep Blue Sea:

He's recording his possibly last moments on earth & instead of
saying good-bye to loved ones, he comes up with:

How to make the perfect omlette.

I giggled.

What? Did that second hand just move backwards???

Oh for Pete's sake!

LOL @ hobbit...tick tock...tick tock..

We are all antsy to see how are Lakers going to perform in Game 1...

Will they have the sense of urgency and smack the Mavs down and take care of business...or will they come out with nonchalant attitude, and win the series but take 7 games to do it...or I won't even dare to mention another outcome...but they go to the well one to many might happen...

I think Lakers are focused now, and ready to play our kind of playoff basketball...They better for it gets harder as we go forward...The is a storm arising in the East...and our boys better be prepared...for you lose you go home...

Ask the the 07 Patriots what that feels like...

@LEW, you might have missed my previous post but I am on the 4-0 sweep bus...

hobbit - nice Supertramp reference. I actually had Crime of the Century come up on the old iPod today LOL!

@LEW, you might have missed my previous post but I am on the 4-0 sweep bus...

Posted by: The Snake | May 02, 2011 at 01:35 PM


I got it are on the Sweeper Bus...look for next post...I try to post if for each new thread...

I hope OKC wins the series Vs Memphis.. Bad things happen when the Lakers play Memphis. Both of Drews injuries have come plying the Griz.

no lie, i'd kill for that omelette. i'd also kill for 740pm. this monday is dragging harder than usual.

justa, "Crime of the Century"? I think not - it's Pink Floyd all the way - nice sentiment Hobbit!
Seriously though, can 7:30p come any faster?

justa - still waiting for you prediction so I can put you on a bus...

You don't want to play;)

hobbit - nice Supertramp reference. I actually had Crime of the Century come up on the old iPod today LOL!

Posted by: justanothermambafan

my response: Actually, Pink Floyd.

(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

I didn't put Ron's matchup with Marion on the list simply because Dirk, Kidd and Terry as well as Chandler are more focal points of their offense. Surely, it's critical that Ron defend Marion well but I thought the others ranked in more importance


Let's do it by which team has the best players:

Tier 1:

1. Kobe
2. Dirk (I'll give it to him even though I'm partial to Gasol when he's right)
3. Gasol
4. Bynum (3 and 4 could be flip-flopped depending)
5. Odom
6. Kidd (I'm being nice)
7. Terry (I'm being nice again)
8. Artest

Tier 2:

9. Marion
10. Chandler
11. Fisher (I'm underrating him on purpose)
12. Stojakovic (why not)

Tier 3 :

Barnes, Blake, Brown, Barea, Haywood, Stevenson (whatever order)

OK, so of the top 8 players from these 2 teams, the Lakers arguably have 5 of them and even putting Kidd and Terry ahead of Artest is questionable given their ages and Artest's impact on the defensive end. So if the Lakers have 5 of the top 8 best players, and the Mavs have 3 of the next 4 best players, which would you rather have? I'll take Tier 1.

There's my "matchup" analysis.

Happy Belated Birthday Mark. I hope you had a good one!

Super excited! My husband got us discount tickets (from to Game 1 Lakers vs Mavs tonight! ~ best mothers day present ever!!!!

Well WTH WAS I THINKING????? Oy vey.... gonna have to do pennance for THAT blunder.

My god - I have no words....

lew - I'm not really feeling a prediction this time around. I guess I'm thinking the series may prove to be harder than we anticipate. How about this - "Lakers win it".


justa, sorry for the snootiness that was "...I think not" - it's just that Time/Dark Side of the Moon resonates so heavily with me. Athough Crime of the Century is also right up the when it comes to heavy duty prog rock concept albums...
...and speaking of...

"People who may guard Kobe are: Jason Terry(who Kobe can easily score on because Jason Terry admitted he is scared to guard Bryant and let's face it Terry is a bad defender), Ronny Beabouis(WAY TOO SMALL TO GUARD KOBE; EASY POST UP), Shawn Marion (he has the length to bother Kobe's jumpshot, but does not have the foot speed to keep Kobe in front of him), Jason Kidd (Most easy person for Kobe to score on becuz Kidd is old and slow and Kobe is an inch or 2 taller than Kidd). Posted by: jordan | May 02, 2011 at 01:01 PM "

If Kidd is too old and slow to guard Kobe, he certainly fooled me this year. He has done a much better job than I would have expected. Deshawn Stevenson is another player that is going to be guarding Kobe.

Posted by: hobbitmage | May 02, 2011 at 01:11 PM

hahahaha,,did i see my name being mentioned in vain? Not into who is #1 or #2 player, the only time I care is when title is on the line. I am picking Griz over OKC and should be a great WCF between the lakers & griz!!

Lakes in 5--mark it down. Dallas is soft.



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