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Lakers will rebound against Dallas Mavericks next season

September 7, 2011 |  2:00 pm

Dallas Mavericks

This is the second part of a series breaking down the Lakers' potentially troublesome Western Conference opponents.

Team: Dallas Mavericks

Lakers' record versus Dallas last season: 2-1 in regular season, lost 4-0 in Western Conference semifinals

How Mavericks fared last season: NBA champions

Why Dallas is a threat to the Lakers: They won the NBA title after all, so of course Dallas would immediately be involved in the conversation as one of next season's title favorites. The Mavericks' championship run also illustrated the team featuring many assets the Lakers lacked.That included clutch shooting (Dirk Nowitzki), handling adversity (six fourth-quarter comebacks), consistent inside presence (Tyson Chandler) and a consistent bench (Jason Terry, J.J. Barea).

WIth the Mavericks finally clearing the psychological hurdle of imploding in the postseason, they have the confidence and talent to match up with any team, including the Lakers. Plus, Caron Butler will be fully healthy.

Why the Lakers are a threat to Dallas: As talented as the Mavericks are, many of the Lakers' shortcomings against them proved to be self-inflicting. The Lakers' problems included a lack of clutch shooting from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol's disappearing act, Ron Artest's inconsistent defense and a spotty bench surely won't be as egregious as it was in the 2011 playoffs. The Lakers' fatigue, injuries and motivation will also improve.

Meanwhile, Dallas captured lighting in a bottle during its title run. As talented as Nowitzki is, it's unrealistic to think he can replicate the 27.7 points per game playoff average, including 10.3 in the fourth quarters. As durable as Kidd proved to be, it's possible he will retire. As much of an inside threat Chandler proved to be, he's given strong indications he might not re-sign with Dallas. As much as Barea bolstered his bench, he may not return either. Owner Mark Cuban developed a reputation for spending whatever necessary to retain top talent, so every effort will be made to keep the team's core roster. But part of Dallas' success last season points to being underestimated, a luxury it won't have next season.

Verdict: The Lakers-Mavericks matchups will prove to be competitive, but the Lakers will soon reclaim their superiority over the defending champions.


Western Conference Scouting Report: Oklahoma City Thunder

Dallas' 2011 championship team featured many assets the Lakers lacked

J.J. Barea interested in the Mavericks -- or the Lakers, Heat or Knicks

--Mark Medina

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Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images