The Lakers come in to this series knowing that they escaped a game Hornets squad. What I mean by that is if the Hornets had someone other than Chris Paul, they may not even be here. The Mavericks pulled a series out against the Trailblazers and their only hope is that whatever curse that Portland team has on it didn't rub off on the Mavericks during their games there.
Los Angeles Lakers:
This all starts with Kobe. He looked terrible, at times, in the series against the Hornets. Looked like his legs were dead or something was going on, maybe an ankle issue (hahahaha). Once his bigs started playing Kobe could cheer from the bench. The Lakers are the best team in the NBA, make no mistake, but they have to get it in gear. This whole, we won't play until the playoffs is going to get them beat against quality teams. Bynum and Gasol have to dominate. If they do, I don't see anyone beating them. If they don't, the Mavericks have a chance.
Not much to say about this team. Dirk is Dirk, Jason Terry is Jason Terry, and when you add in the ageless wonder in Kidd, you have the Mavericks Big 3. The difference this year will be the Mavericks with Chandler and Haywood in the paint. They are going to be big for this team to win. Roddy Beaubois is starting to play and his quickness will give Fisher and probably Blake some problems. If Caron Butler can find a way to get on the floor he'll provide this team with a little bit of an emotional lift. Dirk is going to have to play well against either Artest or Odom for the majority of this series.
Lakers - Ron Artest and Shannon Brown. Artest is going to have to play Dirk and beat him up. If the refs let him get away with being physical, this one is over quickly. Brown has to be that spark off the bench that he was earlier in the year. He was doing his best (young) Kobe impersonation with his scoring and aerial displays. He's gotta be that catalyst that gets this team going when they get lackadaisical.
Mavericks - Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Peja Stojakovic. Chandler and Haywood have got to be men and get the Laker big bodies out of the paint. They may not have to score big numbers but they will have to dominate the boards. Peja is the unkown. I mean he hasn't been himself since he was in Sacramento and if you remember him from there,......he likes playing the Lakers. If he can get some of that old Peja magic going, this Mavs team can pull one off.
Prediction: An old guy once said this, 'to be the man, you've got to BEAT the man, and I am THE man'. Some old Ric Flair for those that remember. With that said, the Lakers are THE man in this matchup and the Mavericks need to do something extra if they are going to win. When it comes down to it, the Lakers have Kobe and the best I can say for the Mavericks is they have Dirk. But, I've said that no one will win an NBA Championship with a 7-foot shooting guard. Lakers 4-3.