Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
NBA / Western Conference
American Airlines Center, Dallas TX
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012. 9:30 PM EST
Analysis of the Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers, currently 19-13 and trailing the Clippers in their division, were a tough team to read in the first half of the season. They started out well, winning 9 of their first 13, before dropping 4 of their next 5. The emergence of C Andrew Bynum has been offset in many respects by the slumping play of PF Pau Gasol. Star SG Kobe Bryant helped set up a players-only meeting this past Monday with the intention of making the 2nd half of the season a much more consistent (and better) effort than the 1st half, and they showed what they were capable of with a convincing win over the Trailblazers later that night.
Analysis of the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are a hot team right now, winning 7 of their last 8 with the only loss at an even hotter Knicks team. During that time they’ve taken down the Clippers, 76ers, and Celtics and, following a questionable start to the season, have established themselves as one of the elite squads out West. The Mavs (21-12, second in their division behind the Spurs) have a tough 2nd half of the season to look forward to however and must keep their winning ways going if they want a favorable seed in the playoffs. We stock Dallas Mavericks Tickets for all American Airlines Center games.
Los Angeles Lakers: PF Pau Gasol
The Lakers live and die by Kobe Bryant each night, but without a steady effort from Gasol and Bynum they’d be on the outside looking in playoffs-wise. Gasol will have an especially important game here as he’ll be matched up against Dallas’s star PF Dirk Nowitski. Gasol is averaging a double-double now with 17 points and 11 boards each night, and he’ll have to both match those numbers as well as limit Dirk’s if the Lakers are going to win.
Dallas Mavericks: SG Jason Terry
Terry is a fantastic scorer and is a threat every night to put up 20 or more points if left unguarded. When he’s on the floor he’ll have to try and slow down Kobe, something that is a whole lot easier said than done. A couple big 3-pointers from Terry and a couple big defensive stops on Kobe will be crucial for the Mavs to win on Wednesday.
The Lakers two big men, Gasol and Bynum, anchor the best rebounding team in the league (averaging almost 46 rebounds every night). While the Mavericks are also a decent rebounding squad (pulling down 43, 7th in the league), the Lakers will try and crash the boards as much as they can knowing it’s one of the few areas where the have an advantage. If the Mavs can limit the Lakers’ rebounds they’ll easily secure a win at home.
Kobe Bryant created a few shockwaves this past weekend with some remarks about the rumors the Lakers were considering trading Bynum away. While controversial they also let the aforementioned slumping Gasol know that Bryant had his back, and their play on Monday showed that the Lakers of the past few seasons might be emerging again. While the Mavericks on the road will be an extremely tough test for the Lakers, I think they win it with their newfound team confidence.
Prediction = Los Angeles Lakers: 92 – Dallas Mavericks: 86