I'm very much looking forward to the second round match-up of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Why? Mainly because it the Mavs are a team that the Lakers haven't met in their previous championship runs.
But how do the teams stack up against each other? Here are my key points for the playoff series:
- Mavs must pick their poison in defending Kobe - Kobe Bryant has had success against the Mavs in the past and this series will continue that trend. In the perimeter defensive roles, Dallas can throw Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, and Shawn Marion to defend Kobe. The Matrix can probably make it hard for Kobe, but that means leaving Ron Artest against smaller defenders inside. In the Hornets series, Artest showed that he can produce in the paint.
- Dirk will prowl the perimeter - Did you see how Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol crowd the lane in the Hornets series? The same will happen in this round and this means that Mavs All-Star Dirk Nowitzki will dwell in the perimeter to get his baskets.
- Sixth Man battles - The series also features two of the last three winners of the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award: Lamar Odom of the Lakers and Jason Terry of the Mavericks. While both have different playing styles, each of them are expected to bring offensive spark off the bench. Which sixth man will help his team more?
- Euro Big Men - I'm also looking forward to the match-up of the two best European players in the league right now: Gasol and Nowtizki. I expect Pau to cover Dirk a few times in the game (I expect Odom to defend Dirk from the outside). Looking at the NBA Statscube, Dirk has struggled a bit when Pau Gasol is on the floor.
- Mark Cuban versus Phil Jackson - Apart from the battles that will be fought on the basketball court, I'm expecting some zinging happening outside. The outspoken owner of the Mavs has history against the Lakers coach and I'm sure we'll read a lot of quotables from the two.
If the Lakers continue to play solid defense and make it hard on the Dirk Nowitzki it will be a short series. As I've mentioned in my second round NBA Playoffs predictions, I'm expecting the Lakers to win in 6.
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