Western Conference Dance in Big-D; Lakers Visit Mavericks

Written by: Devin Ugland

Mavs’ Projected Starting Line-up:

PG: Jason Kidd
SG: Roddy Beaubios
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Tyson Chandler

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

Injuries: SF Peja Stojakovic (Back, Neck) Day-to-Day, Caron Butler (Knee) Out for Season

The Lakers (46-20) head back into Texas to battle Western Conference foe the Dallas Mavericks (47-18) Saturday night. The purple and gold’s eight game win streak came to an end last night against a desperate Miami Heat squad, who had lost their previous five games. Some ill-advised late game shots, and very costly turnovers doomed the Lakers last night in South Beach.

Unable to cool the Heat, Kobe, Pau, and the rest of the Lakers squad must put that game behind them and focus their energy to another very tough matchup that could potentially have an effect on Western Conference playoff seeding. The Lakers are 1.5 games behind the Mavs for the second seed in the West, as Phil Jackson said before this trip started; it could make or break the Lakers chance at a number two seed in the post-season.

The Mavs are coming off of an 18-point thrashing of the Knicks on Thursday night. Dallas has always been known for their high-powered offense, and this season is no different. They rank 11th in points per game and third in assists per game. The Mavs offensive attack is led by future Hall-of-Fame PG Jason Kidd.  Dallas is always looking to get out in transition to get a quick score. Perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki is having another stellar year, averaging 23 ppg, and 6.6 rpg. Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion have been a great addition to this Mavsí squad. They bring a nice defensive presence and are two of the best pick-and-roll finisherís in the NBA.

The most dangerous part of this Mavs team is their depth. Jason Terry is leading the Sixth-Man-of-the-Year race, again, averaging 16.4 ppg and 4.3 apg in 31 minutes off the bench. Reserve PG J.J. Barea can also bring instant offense off the bench. Back-up C Brendan Haywood gives the Mavsí a strong shot-blocker when Chandler needs to rest.

Three Keys to a Laker Victory:

1.    Make Nowitzki work hard to get the ball – Keep him off balance and make his looks at the basket tough.

2.    Keep Kidd and Beaubios out of transition – They feed off of easy buckets.

3.    Don’t let Terry go off – His spark off the bench in the fourth quarter demoralizes most teams.

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