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.