Lakers Head into Game 3 with Their Backs Against the Wall

Mavs Projected Starting Line-up:

PG: Jason Kidd
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitski
C: Tyson Chandler

Key Reserves: G Jason Terry, G J.J. Barea, C Brendan Haywood, F Peja Stojakovic

The Lakers have found themselves down two games with the next two on the road. To make matters worse, Ron Artest is suspended for this game due to an inexplicable flagrant foul at the end of Game 2. I’m not going to sugarcoat things – this is bad, very bad. However, there’s no question in my mind that this team is capable of coming back from a 2-0 deficit. They have the talent and the ability to flip the switch. But, does this Laker team want to return to the finals? Do they really want to three-peat? Tonight we’ll see what this team is really made of. Maybe the script is written like this for a reason.

Keys to Lakers Victory:
Defend the Small Guards: I swear if you watched the 3rd quarter of Game 2, you’d think that J.J. Barea was one of the best point guards in the league. He was running circles around the Lakers’ defenders and was getting to the rim at will. Barea could’ve pranced his way to the hoop and still blazed past his defender. This is absolutely unacceptable if the Lakers hope to win. A positive takeaway – the Lakers did do a better job defender Jason Terry. The Jet was held to 9 points on 3 of 12 shooting.

The Importance of the Trey: Sure, the Mavs were only 32% from beyond the arc but they had plenty of open looks and just missed them. The Lakers were very soft in defending the trey and part of this is because of the penetration of the Mavs’ guards forcing Laker defenders to rotate and help. The Lakers also need to make their threes. They shot 2 of 20 which is a woeful 10%. In this particular game there really are no more second chances. The Lakers need to make the most of their opportunities and knock down open looks.

Take it to the Rim, Don’t Settle for Jumpers: As poorly as the Lakers have been shooting lately, they should really put the ball on the floor and drive into the paint. Other than making the hoop, two things should happen: Either they kick the ball out for an easy look or they get fouled and go to the line. The Mavs’ bigs haven’t been in foul trouble during the first two games because of the Lakers’ lack of aggression. Usually good things happen when you take the ball to the rim.

Play as Cohesive Unit: In the last two games the Lakers have looked disjointed and flustered. There has been a lack of on-court cohesion and this needs to be remedied if the Lakers have any hope of climbing out of this two game hole. Perhaps one may view this as a last stand of sorts and I hope they decide to fight this battle together.

Suspended: Ron Artest

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