By Scott Spangler
The Dallas Mavericks visit the Los Angeles Lakers tonight for Game 2 of their second round series. Here are some keys for both teams:
For Los Angeles
Pound the ball inside
Kobe Bryant is a wonderful player, but the Lakers are most effective when Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are getting their touches. Gasol is an excellent interior passer and works well in the high-low game. For the record, Bynum shot 70 percent against the Mavericks in three games this year, though not so well Monday as his touches were limited. Look for that to change this evening.
Tyson Chandler is a very good post defender, but can be foul-prone. Everything will be determined by how tight or loose referees Bennett Salvatore, Monty McCutchen, and Bill Spooner call things early. We expect the Lakers to force whistles from the tip.
More Odom, Less Artest
Lamar Odom is a matchup problem in general. Six-ten forwards who can spot up or floor the ball are funny that way. But he is a particularly tough cover for Dirk Nowitzki, who really isn’t adept at defending in space. Forcing Dirk to expend energy would certainly make it tougher on the other end of the floor.
The way Ron Artest is going right now, Dallas can afford to cut him loose in halfcourt sets. At the very least, more second-half clock for Odom would give Rick Carlisle plenty to worry about.
Slow it down
The Mavericks want to run. More than any remaining playoff team, they want to get out and get easy buckets. The Dallas guards are small and operate better in space. The Lakers must control the glass and the pace. Phil Jackson is usually adamant about limiting run-outs. If he has his way, this game will be played at a snail’s pace.
Work towards making the Lakers one-dimensional
Kobe is going to get his. Should he get really hot, it’s not the end of the world (see G1). The problem comes when Gasol is getting touches and starts to feel it, or when Bynum is working effectively in the paint. The Mavs must pick something they can live with and try like hell to take away everything else.
Also, should Derek Fisher and Ron Artest start knocking down open looks, do not overcompensate. Those guys are not heavy lifters. Stick with the defensive gameplan and do not panic.
Get out and run
With the Lakers doing everything they can to get this game to a crawl, Dallas must fight to get it going up and down. The Lakers’ length is a problem to the Mavericks. They want to negate that disadvantage with Jason Kidd and the running game. The bucket is a lot more accessible with Bynum and Gasol trailing the play.
Dallas has the edge in depth and they’re loaded with big-game experience - Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Peja Stojakovic. Someone else must step up again in G2, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Jason Terry.
What’s more, the Lakers have problems with scoring guards. This is where the Mavericks can offset some other deficiencies. J.J. Barea has played well against the Lakers in the past. He could very well be a factor this evening.
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