By John Carroll
The LA Lakers gave away Game 1 in their series with the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, losing 96-94. They had a 16 point lead with 10:39 left in the third quarter, and had complete control of the game. They then had a basketball meltdown. They stopped playing defense and good fundamental offense. They fell into the NBA trap and lost focus, and did not display the mental discipline to put a strangle hold on the Mavericks. The Lakers lost home court advantage in a game they should have won.
Dallas on the other hand showed great resiliency with their 3rd quarter comeback. During their 20-6 run they got defensive stops, took care of the ball and gave themselves a chance to climb back into the game. Offensively they had five players in double figures in Game 1. They had great ball movement, which led to 30 assists on their 39 baskets. When you play on the road in the playoffs you just want to hang around. The Mavericks hung around till the final minutes and made some big plays down the stretch to defeat the Lakers.
Game 2 Adjustments
1. The Lakers must make a major emphasis of getting the ball inside to their big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in Game 2. They need to pound the ball inside and take advantage of their size and length. Bynum only had 8 shot attempts in Game 1, while Gasol had 10. The Lakers have three offensive strengths: Kobe, their inside game, and Lamar Odom off the bench. Kobe is going to be aggressive and get his shots and points. Lamar has become a consistent scorer off the bench. The Lakers cannot go away from one of their biggest strengths, their inside game. They do not run set plays for their big men, thus they must emphasize feeding the post via their triangle offense and get Bynum and Gasol a high volume of touches.
2. The Lakers need to stop two phases of the Mavericks offensive attack in Game 2. They need to contain their 3 point shooting and limit the effectiveness of their bench. The Lakers learned exactly how to defeat the Mavericks during the regular season: limit their 3 point shooting. When they have done that this season, they have beaten the Mavericks. In Game 1 they did not pay close enough attention to the 3 point shooting of the Mavs. They allowed the Mavs to shoot 9-20 (45%) from behind the arc. The Lakers must not blow defensive coverages and leave Maverick shooters open in Game 2. They need to focus on their game plan for the entire 48 minutes The Lakers must be more alert to the Mavericks 3 point shooters Terry, Stojzkovic, Nowitzki, Kidd, and Barea.
The Mavericks outscored the Lakers bench 40-25. Lamar Odom scored 15 points for the Lakers and provided 12 rebounds, but that was about it for the Lakers. Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake were mostly nonexistent. The Mavericks had Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, JJ Barea and a surprise contributor in Corey Brewer all step up for them off the bench. If the Laker bench cannot contribute, it puts way too much pressure on the starters. It will force Phil Jackson to play his starters more minutes that could lead to other problems.
3. The Lakers must not fall into the Kobe Trap! When Kobe gets it going in a game they have a tendency to stand around and watch. Obviously when he gets into a zone it is imperative to get him the ball, but at what expense? They cannot force feed him to the point where it hurts their team. Although it is difficult to stop Kobe when he gets into a zone it becomes much easier to guard the other four players on the court. The Lakers have a tendency to go away from the triangle offense, feed Kobe in isolations and stand around and watch. They must find a nice balance between keeping Kobe going and keeping the defense honest. The Lakers must continue to have good ball and player movement and let Kobe score out of the flow of their offense.
4. Dallas has improved defensively and they must continue to produce on the defensive end of the floor in order to defeat the Lakers. In Game 1 they held the Lakers to 42.9 fg%. They got 8 steals, 8 blocks, and worked diligently on the glass, grabbing 35 rebounds. They are such a great offensive team that they do not have to be the best defensive team in the NBA to win a title. They just have to be a good and consistent. The Mavs have several answers for Kobe. They have Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Deshawn Stevenson and Corey Brewer. They will continue to utilize Jason Kidd on Kobe in the final minutes of the game. He has the size, strength, and cache with the referees to defend and not get called for fouls.
5. This series will require both teams to demonstrate resolve and composure. Each team is extremely talented and will go on big runs. In Game 1 the Lakers went on a 21-2 run late in the second quarter that continued early into the third quarter. The Mavericks came back with a 20-6 run in the third quarter of their own. This will be a series that will require the winner to show how mental toughness. If and when a team gets behind they must have the capability to get stops, move the ball and get high quality shots. They must stay together without becoming unraveled. The Mavericks demonstrated all of these qualities in Game 1 and that is why they are up 1-0. The Lakers must show resolve and resiliency in Game 2.
Prediction: Lakers win Game 2