Lakers Look to Rebound vs. Mavericks in Game 2

Mavs Projected Starting Line-up:

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

Key Reserves: G Jason Terry, G JJ Barea, C Brendan Haywood, F Peja Stojakovic, G Roddy Beaubios, G Corey Brewer

The Lakers have yet to ditch the shovel that they have used to dig themselves an early hole thus far in the playoffs. The purple and gold had a third quarter lead that was 16 at it’s highest, but multiple self-inflicted factors led to their downfall. Now, the Lakers try to even the series Wednesday night at Staples Center, in what some consider a must win game.

Point Guard Match Up:

Derek Fisher started out Game 1 on fire, scoring eight points in the first 24 minutes of action. Unfortunately, Fish didn’t carry that aggressiveness into the second half, scoring no points after the break. D. Fish did play solid defense on his counterpart, Jason Kidd, going under nearly every screen and daring Kidd to shoot. Look for Fish to continue with that defensive strategy against Kidd, but also to look for more second half offense in Game 2

Jason  Kidd didn’t have spectacular numbers (7 points on 2-4 shooting and 11 assists) in Game 1, but his effort to get Nowitzki the ball where he was comfortable, and his late game defense on Kobe helped lead the Mavericks to victory. Kidd will continue to make sure Nowitzki gets the ball in the best possible scenario, and Rick Carlisle will probably use Kidd on Kobe more often in Game 2.

Shooting Guard Match Up:

Kobe Bryant had the type of offensive output that would usually lead to a Laker victory, but questionable late-game shot selection and an ill-advised turnover helped seal the Lakers Game 1 fate. Bryant had 36 points on 14-29 from the field, but finished the game with just five rebounds and zero assists. Look for Kobe to stay aggressive on offense in Game 2 to avenge Monday’s loss, but also look for Kobe to hit Pau and ‘Drew on the blocks more often.

DeShawn Stevenson was basically a non-factor in Game 1. Carlisle uses Stevenson in the starting line-up for defensive purposes, but after Kobe torched him early on, Carlisle opted to try something else. Stevenson played only 10 minutes going 0-3 from the field with zero points and one assist. Stevenson will likely get the start again in Game 2, but I’m sure Carlisle will keep him on a short leash.

Small Forward Match Up:

Ron Artest was nearly as ineffective as Stevenson in Game 1. Artest went 1-8 from the field with two points, three rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Ron has been very consistent during this playoff run, so look for him to get back on track in Game 2. Also, Phil Jackson may want to think about trying Artest’s hand at defending Nowitzki. If Artest is ineffective on offense, throwing a different defensive look at Dirk may be a good idea.

Shawn Marion didn’t have a Matrix-like game, but he did play solid basketball. With Artest struggling, Marion was able to help off Ron and double down on Bynum and Gasol. Marion only accounted for 10 points and four rebounds, but he puts a lot of pressure on the Lakers transition defense. Look for Marion to keep shading off of Artest defensively, until Ron proves he can hurt the Mavs.

Power Forward Match Up:

Pau  Gasol has been the most criticized and crucial Laker of these playoffs. The key match up to this series was the Gasol/Nowitzki battle, round one going to Dirk. Pau had a double-double, with 15-10, but his defense on Dirk was non-existent. Gasol did attempt only 10 shots on the night, so look for him to be much more aggressive on offense in Game 2. Defensively, if he is going to continue to check Nowitzki, it could be a long night for Gasol on that end.

Dirk Nowitzki had a near perfect Game 1. Dirk had 28 points on 11-22 from the field, and 14 rebounds, and hit some ridiculously tough shots down the stretch. The Lakers had no answer for Nowitzki, so Dirk will most likely deploy the same attack – take advantage of the mismatch he has over Gasol.

Center Match Up:

Andrew Bynum made some nice moves against Chandler early in the game, but it seemed like a lack of foul calls that ‘Drew expected, but didn’t get, curbed his low-post enthusiasm. Bynum played just 29 minutes scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds. Surprisingly, Andrew was outplayed by Mavericks center Tyson Chandler on both ends of the court. Look for Bynum to be more active on both ends of the court, if he is able to grab a couple offensive boards and get some easy put-backs, ‘Drew will have a bounce back game.

Tyson Chandler is not known for his offense, but he outplayed Andrew Bynum on that end, scoring 11 points on 5-8 from the field. Chandler is extremely effective in the pick-and-roll game, and finishes alley-oops with the best of ’em. When Chandler and Kidd connect on a lob it ignites the Mavs’ offense. Look for Chandler to continue to focus on defense in Game 2, but don’t be surprised if there are a few more lobs thrown his way.

Bench Match Up:

Lamar Odom came off the bench and gave the Lakers solid minutes. Odom ended up with 15 points and 12 boards, he also played decent defense on Nowitzki. The Killer Bee’s scored just 10 points in 47 minutes of combined action. The production out of the Lakers bench has got to be better than that if they want to even up this series.

Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic combined for 25 points on 10-18 from the field. Brendan Haywood, Corey Brewer and JJ Barea came off the bench and all provided good energy on both ends of the floor. The Dallas bench out-scored the Lakers bench 40-25.

Three Keys to A Laker Victory:
1. Get the ball to the bigs’: Pau and ‘Drew combined for only 18 touches in Game 1, that’s not nearly enough.
2. Bench play has got to be better: Lamar had a good game, but Blake, Brown and Barnes have got to dig deep and find the confidence they had earlier in the season.
3. Find a way to limit Nowitzki: If that means putting Artest on Dirk to get more physical against him, or if it means playing Lamar more minutes because he seems to match up better against Dirk, then it has to happen. Dirk’s stellar game buried the Lakers.

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