Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: Will Defending Champs Press Ahead, Or Is It Dallas' Year?

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Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum Will Be Too Much For Dallas

The Mavericks vs. Lakers series is sure full of storylines. Given the success of Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki this decade, it's amazing that they have not faced each other in a playoff series. My guess is that storyline is going to dominate the discussion as this get underway.

As far as it actually affecting the series, though? I don't think it'll make much of a difference. Both guys will get their points, even with some pretty good defenders assigned to them. DeShawn Stevenson and Shawn Marion is a better duo than most teams have to throw at Kobe, and Pau Gasol's length could easily bother Nowitzki. But really, both guys should have no problem doing their thing offensively. 

The series will instead come down to rebounding, and here, the Lakers have a huge advantage. The size of Andrew Bynum was the huge key against the Hornets, and it'll be the key again in this series. Dallas is bigger than New Orleans, and they are better on the glass, but I'm not sure how they plan on keeping both Bynum and Gasol off the offensive boards. Nowitzki is still a phenomenal player, but his defensive rebounding has declined as he's gotten older. Tyson Chandler can control the boards by himself most of the time, but he'll need help in this series, and I doubt he gets it.

For the Mavericks to win, they need to really be making shots to counteract the obvious deficiency they have on the glass. That's a tall order against an excellent Lakers defense in a seven-game series. The Mavericks are an excellent team that should push the Lakers, but it's hard for me to see them winning. The pick: Lakers in 6.


Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Depth Too Much

When the Los Angeles Lakers line up across from the Dallas Mavericks, there's one incredible imbalance on the court: Kobe Bryant vs. the Mavericks guards. Bryant's not just the best wing in the series -- he laps the competition. It's unclear which Maverick will draw first duty on Kobe; DeShawn Stevenson is a likely candidate. While limiting Bryant to poor shooting is possible, Kobe was electric against the Hornets, and had great success against Dallas in the regular season.

Beyond that, while Dirk Nowitzki is a force to be reckoned with, L.A. has nothing if not a great frontcourt. Pau Gasol isn't a great defender, and Dirk is too good a shooter from Andrew Bynum to chase him down. But Nowitzki can't escape a tough match-up on the other end, and the Lakers showed in the New Orleans series that even if one big man is struggling, the team can still win. Gasol had a rough few games against Emeka Okafor, but the Lakers still skated to a 4-2 series win.

Dallas need a lot of things to go right to challenge the Lakers. I'd prefer to bet on the two-time defending champs maintaining their performance. Lakers in 6.


Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: Dirk Nowitzki Can Only Do So Much

How have we lasted the past decade without getting one Kobe-Dirk, Mavericks-Lakers showdown in the NBA Playoffs? It seems like that should have happened at least a couple times, just by accident. In any case, here we are, with Dirk vs. Kobe for the first time ever in the NBA Playoffs.

And if it were just Dirk vs. Kobe... it'd be a pretty fantastic seven-game series.

Unfortunately for the Mavs, the other matchups count, too. And even though Dallas has plenty of size (Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler) to throw at the Lakers big men (Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum), the Lakers just have too many advantages elsewhere. Everything Dallas does, L.A. does a little bit better.

It'll take Dirk Nowitzki becoming a superhero for Dallas to make things interesting, and even then, it's hard to see the Lakers going down. The Mavs' three-point shooting could be enough to win a game or two, but beyond that, it'd take a major collapse on L.A.'s side for things to get interesting.

The Pick: Lakers in 6.


Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: L.A. Big Men Should Overcome Dirk Nowitzki

By C.A. Clark of Silver Screen And Roll, SB Nation's Los Angeles Lakers blog.

In the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers have a playoff opponent which could not be more suited to their tastes. If Kobe Bryant gave in to his inner five year old, went into NBA 2K10, and created a team specifically designed to be unable to take advantage of the Lakers, that team would look a lot like the Mavs.

That statement isn't intended to be disrespectful. Really, it's not. The Mavericks are a good team, a very good team. Dirk Nowitzki is a tremendous player, the team as a whole has solid depth, and they very much earned their 3 seed in a tough Western Conference. They play strong defense, can score explosively, and would be a threat to advance in any playoff series besides the one they are about to take part in.

But against the Lakers? Anything is possible, but that's about all the Mavericks have going for them. This isn't about superior talent or a superior team, even though the Lakers are both. It's about match-ups, and Dallas is so far on the short end of that particular stick, it might well be described as a plank the Mavs will now have to walk. The Lakers are not an invincible team. There are a few well-documented ways in which they can be beaten. The problem is that, of all the ways the Lakers can be defeated, Dallas is adept at none of them. A strong rebounding team can kill the Lakers on the offensive glass, because, for all their size, the Lakers don't work very hard in securing defensive rebounds. Dallas ranks 26th in bringing down offensive boards. As Chris Paul showed, the Lakers can be beaten by quick point guards who penetrate the defense. Dallas starts the only point in the league older than Derek Fisher. The Lakers struggle with super athletic teams because of the mileage on their tires, but the Mavs are the only team in the league who's tires are more bald.

We're not talking David and Goliath. The teams are too similar for that. Instead, Dallas is Goliath's younger brother Steve: Big, strong, and potentially intimidating to the rest of the league, Dallas looks at the Lakers and sees a team that is better at everything the Mavs are good at, save Dallas' strong outside shooting. That is the one fundamental difference between the two aged rosters. Dallas does their damage with outside shooting, the Lakers with inside pounding. Just like in Goliath's more well known battle, Steve's only chance is to land a death blow with his sling shot before Goliath closes the distance and starts punching Steve in the face. Problem is, David was an unknown and had the element of surprise. Dallas is Goliath's little brother, and the Lakers know all their tricks.

Dirk is probably the best player in this series. That, and the Lakers just being who they are, is good for two of the first four games. The Lakers seem to like nothing better than closing out a series with wins in games 5 and 6, and that is the prediction here.

Lakers in 6.


Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: First Two Games In L.A. Key To Dallas' Chances

By Lisa Rotter of Mavs Moneyball, SB Nation's Dallas Mavericks blog.

The Dallas Mavericks were underdogs in a series in which they were the higher-seeded team. Their series victory was due in large part to the veteran nature of the team -- put their backs against the wall and the Mavericks can remain composed. That turned out to be their main advantage against the Portland Trail Blazers, a team against which the Mavericks matched up pretty evenly.

As for the Lakers, of their starters, only Andrew Bynum (six years) has been in the league fewer than 10 seasons. So that veteran advantage flies right out the window. And as for matchups, coach Rick Carlisle was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying, "These guys are bigger and stronger and they're more balanced in terms of their ability to spread the scoring load around. So it's a heck of a challenge." For this reason, the Mavericks will need to maintain their rebounding aggression, especially on the offensive end (read: Tyson Chandler must do work) if they hope to compete.

For the Mavericks, the key matchup lies between Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. If Dirk doesn't score, we have a big problem. And Kobe Bryant, as quoted by the Dallas Morning News, said, "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 and obviously he shoots the three ball. It's a big challenge defensively." The same, however, could be said for Dirk guarding Pau. This one could tip the scales either way.

And now, the question of the hour: Who will guard Kobe? DeShawn Stevenson generally handles him well, and now we have Corey Brewer to give him some assistance. Though considering Brewer's minutes in the first round, seeing him on the floor in crunch time is unlikely. Shawn Marion, will be asked to cover both Ron Artest and Lamar Odom, so he might not be as effective against Bryant. His rebounding will be vital, though, which goes back to Carlisle's emphasis on crashing the boards.

As for team scoring against the Lakers, it really comes down to the team finding a way to get multiple players on the scoreboard, preferably with more than one having 20-plus point games. The reason is this: when Dallas had their lone victory over the Lakers in January, Dallas scored 109. Five of their players scored in double figures, and there were three players with more than 20 points. Compare that to their two losses when they faced L.A. in March: Dallas only averaged around 87 points, and in each loss only three players were able to reach double figures.

As a realist, I'd say this series could really go either way. But as a fan, I'm going to put it in the books (realizing that I'm basing this on nothing but whimsy and hope) and say that the Dallas Mavericks can take this series in 7, but only if they win one of the first two games in Los Angeles.

Be sure to check out our Lakers vs. Mavericks hub for full series coverage. For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball.


Lakers Vs. Mavericks Predictions: Will Defending Champs Press Ahead, Or Is It Dallas' Year?

The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are meeting in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 1988, with the series tipping off Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET.'s NBA editors and our team bloggers will present predictions on the series in the lead-up to Game 1.

For full Lakers vs. Mavericks coverage, check out our series hub.

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