Battle for Second Place; Lakers Host Mavericks

Starting line-ups:

PG: Derek Fisher – Jason Kidd
SG: Kobe Bryant – Rodrigue Beaubois
SF: Ron Artest – Shawn Marion
PF: Pau Gasol – Dirk Nowitzki
C: Andrew Bynum – Tyson Chandler

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a win in Los Angeles after beating the red, white, and blue Clippers by six points. Dallas is now on a five game winning streak and holds the best road record in the NBA with a 27-10 stance. The Mavericks have a balanced roster with different players stepping up in different game. Tonight’s game is crucial for both teams as Dallas is only a half game behind the Lakers for the second seed in the West.

While the Eastern Conference standings seem to be unpredictable after the All-Star break, the Lakers are rolling in the West with seven straight wins and claiming that number two seed. L.A. has been finding ways to close out games strong at home. After facing Dallas, the Lakers will have exactly four home games and four away games left in the regular season. All eight of those games will be against Western Conference teams.

With the Lakers currently on their hot streak they are also looking more aggressive, passionate, and consistent in their game play. Artest has grabbed three steals in each of his last three games. He has also shot 7 for 11 from downtown since March 22nd. With Bynum’s presence back on the court, the Mavericks will have a harder time pushing any further than the third seed in the West.

Keys to Lakers victory:

Contain Terry and Barea – They both combine for nearly 25% of Dallas’s total points. The Mavs average 100.2 points per game. Cut Terry off and it will drop to around 84 points per game.

Kobe vs. Beaubois – Beauboiis can play decent defense. But put the Black Mamba against him and the French native will have to work hard as he is undersized against Bryant.

Put a stop to their runs – Every time Dallas is on a run, they don’t seem to stop. Quickly kill their rhythm and answer back with a bucket.

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