Game 4 Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Mavericks

Darius Soriano —  May 7, 2011

If we’re being honest with ourselves, game 4 is pretty scary. The Lakers are looking at being swept out of the playoffs in a series that they were unanimously predicted to advance past. Entering the playoffs they were one of a handful of teams that were thought to be legitimate contenders and were the betting favorites to win the championship. And now they’re 48 minutes from their season ending in the 2nd round.

However, forget all that for a minute and focus on what it actually takes to win this single game. We know that the Lakers have a gameplan that is capable of being successful. 4th quarter leads down the stretch of games 1 & 3 are evidence of that.

Offensively, the ball must go inside. Andrew Bynum has been tremendous in the last two games and his ability to get deep post position has led to easy baskets and offensive rebounds. The Lakers must utilize him when he’s open and actively seek him out when the play is developing for him to be featured.

But simply dumping the ball to Big ‘Drew won’t be enough. The offense must be run and it must executed with precision. Much of this will fall on the perimeter players with Kobe playing a central role in getting his mates lined up to be effective. Number 24 will need to strike that balance between facilitator, encourager, and finisher. Game three offered a beautiful template for Kobe to work off of and if he gives a repeat performance, I’ll be happy.

Derek Fisher and Ron Artest will be wildcards of sorts, with shot making and overall decision making being key. Fisher made two errors down the stretch of game 3 – one on each side of the ball – that he’ll surely be looking to rectify with a strong performance this game. Some made three pointers, sound post passes, and hard screens will go a long way in this one. As for Ron, he’s been stewing for a few days champing at the bit waiting to contribute. His game 2 performance was substandard and in game three his defense was surely missed – especially down the stretch. A made corner three or two, a couple of steals, and steady rebounding are acts that he’s more than capable of providing. They’d be welcomed additions to this game.

And then there’s Gasol. At this point, the less said about how he’s performed the better. We know his play can improve. He knows it too. Game 4 may be the last time he gets to perform for this team this year. The Lakers should not abandon him but should embrace him. For all his faulty play so far, there have been glimpses of what he can provide. A strong post up here. A blocked shot there. A nice jumper followed by a strong drive. He’s capable; I’d love to see it coaxed out of him in this one. Go to him early and give him his chances to score. Involve him in P&R’s where he can either dive or pop out to his preference. If the Lakers are to win, he’ll be a key component, we should find out early if he’s up to the task.

Defensively, the Lakers must simply solve the riddle of hot shooters. That’s a tough code to crack but it’s still possible. The key to the Mavs attack has been great P&R play and deceptive off ball screen actions that loosen up their shooters. The Lakers must trust (yes, trust) the fact that a mate will be there to cover for them should they rotate or not rotate based off their scheme. Strategically, going under screens on Kidd and Barrea is a must. Make them shoot the ball from range behind screens or move the ball on against a defense that is set, not one that’s scrambling. Staying attached to Dirk as he floats around the perimeter and craftily uses screens to try and free himself is also very important. ┬áThe Mavs are his team and they go as he goes. Somewhat containing him would go a long way in achieving the goal of getting a win.

The other key to this game is clearly that of the reserves. With Ron back in the fold, Odom will resume his role as floor general for the second string. His leadership will be key in helping ensure that those guys stay on task and are into the flow of the game. Quietly, Shannon Brown has had two solid shooting games in a row and getting a third would be helpful. As would a couple of Blake three pointers and Matt Barnes running the lane and grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds. But where they’ll really be needed is on the defensive end, matching up with Terry, Barrea, and Peja. All three of those Mavs have made their imprint on separate games this series and slowing them down by contesting their jumpers and keeping them out of their comfort zones is key.

Most importantly though, is to go hard and do it intelligently the entire game. The Mavs have been as opportunistic as possible in these first three contests, stealing two games late. Anytime the Lakers have given them an inch, they took it and added another for good measure. Mind you, the key isn’t for the Lakers to play perfect, but for them to limit the errors and especially limit them in the key moments of the game. In the closing minutes, the Lakers must be ready to consistently execute and do the things that have gotten them to the top of the mountain the past two seasons. I’d love to see Kobe work off the ball a bit more in order to run defenders off screens while others create for him. I’d also like to see some semblance of the Triangle with screens and ball movement being incorporated into the action.

Game 4 is a cross roads for this Laker team. One direction leads to game 5 with a bit of momentum on their side and a home crowd ready to help them get to game 6. The other direction leads to an early off-season marred with speculation, celebrating naysayers, the potential that game 4 would have been the last game that this group got to play together. I don’t know about you, but the former sounds a lot better to me. Let’s get this win.


Darius Soriano

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229 responses to Game 4 Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Mavericks

  1. Huge thanks to Phil for all the memories. Incredibly sad way for you to go, but you lead my beloved Lakers to 7 finals appearances and 5 chips in my adulthood. Truly thankful for all you’ve done for the team. Best wishes and hope you enjoy retirement.

    To the Mavericks fans, congratulations, g’luck, truly hope Dirk and J-Kidd finally win one. Will be rooting for the Mavs.

    PS. Kobe + the Shawfather will be back next year!

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  2. Well. Ouch. Not how I had envisioned our season ending.

    Credit to the Mavericks, who held it together and really played very well, particularly their reserves.

    Still, would have liked to have seen some fight rather than a Game 6 reenactment.

    With that said, this team had a very good run, with three Finals appearances and two championships. We just didn’t have it this year.

    Thank you to Phil Jackson – I’m sorry you had to go out this way. Good luck in the future.

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  3. There shouldn’t be any hate comments here guys. I know it hurts, but as fans we gotta reflect on our teams accomplishments. You can’t stay on top forever. Sometimes the success the Lakers have had made us as fans too spoiled. Be proud of what they’ve done these last few years. Other teams and their fans would have loved to be in our position…and we end up forgetting about that.

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  4. @204

    Sure. But 122-86 with two ejections for flagrants? That is going to cause some anger.

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  5. Thanks Phil!

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  6. Although I am sad to see the Lakers’ run end, I’m glad Kidd and Nowitzki are getting their shot to win a title. The Lakers were just embarrassing; they showed no heart. And to add injury to insult, Odom and especially Bynum acted like bad losers. A 36-point elimination loss by a defending champ is just unacceptable.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/05/game-4-lakers-showed-their-true-colors.html

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  7. Rooting for Chicago and Memphis now. Can’t pull for OKC because of Perkins. I’m torn on the Mavs. I want Dirk (and even Kidd) to win a ring, but Cuban and Jason Terry are so damn annoying.

    This offseason will be interesting, to say the least. Unless there’s locker-room strife, I expect the core to remain intact. But let’s see what Mitch does.

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  8. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose…
    In this game only a few have done the former, enjoy and go on. Go Grizzlies!

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  9. Thanks to the writers and readers of this blog, best place to get objective and indepth information about this lakers team keep up the good work for next season!

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  10. We need a fast point guard with skill and some better talent off the bench, players with speed and that can shoot the 3. Bynum will be better too. Gasol needs to get some more heart. There was too much pressure put on Kobe to do too much this series, and he cant just take over a game anymore like before anymore. Lets face it, the Mavs were the better team, more talented, a lot quicker and much better shooters. Not mention they wanted it a lot more, hats off to them. If the Lakers make the right moves this off season, they can get some payback next year.

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  11. Magic was right about this team being together a little to long. Particularly Phil, since the team starts with him.

    I’ve felt all season that Phil wasn’t completely engaged. I think the Zen mantra was more of an excuse not to change his ways to make his team better. I wrote back in January if he doesn’t change this would happen. Phil just said it’s kinda good to be ending the season. He should be absolutely pissed off and he’s not. The problem with phil was he didn’t have anything to prove. He had accomplished everything he possibly could. He just wasn’t into basketball anymore and it really showed in game 1. He really didn’t have anything to gain or lose. Nobody will be blaming Phil for this except a few. I respect what phil has done for the lakers over the course of his career, but he’s just been out coached again and frankly doesn’t care to much.

    But i’m hoping the Buss family gets a well rounded coach like JVG that still has a lot to prove and is still hungry. I really hope the lakers can move Pau instead of Bynum. Pau pretty much quit and was disengaged the entire playoffs. But its pretty unlikely so I hoping they can get Dwight Howard a true superstar to really carry the lakers when they need a lift.

    I hope fisher finally takes a step back and come off the bench and realize he just doesn’t have it anymore. No disrespect to Fisher. But his time has passed. We thank him for him being a fighter and never giving but he is what he is.

    I really don’t know what the lakers are going to do with their bench. Shannon has regressed big time. But like Lisa Leslie just said something is wrong them them internally and they really need to make some big changes. They don’t need to completely blow it up. But they have to get rid of one of their bigs if they can get Dwight Howard and hopefully try to get a 3 point shooter, hopefully one that can defend, play with heart and come cheap…Sasha Vujacic anyone lol.

    The true blessing in disguise is rest for Kobe because to be honest there was no way Kobe was going to be able to go all the way with his injuries and be successful in the next few seasons. So hopefully he can get healthy, the lakers can get a good coach in and a true second superstar.

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  12. Thank you, Phil Jackson.

    I am deeply saddened that your last rodeo had to end this way. You are the greatest coach of all time, in any sport. I will miss your humorous quips, your refusals to call timeouts, and your mind games against other coaches.

    You have affected me in ways beyond basketball. I have never seen a man more at peace at any given moment. Your coolness under pressure is legendary. With all your accomplishments, you still remained a down to earth guy, someone whose presence commands respect.

    Thank you, Phil Jackson.

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  13. I must say that I am disappointed with the rank negativity on this board.

    If you are a true fan, you accept the lows with the highs, and we’ve had plenty of highs, so we shouldn’t personally attack our team or players just because of a monumental disappointment.

    Many on this board felt something was off this year (or significant chunks of it), so on some level this isn’t shocking, albeit a sweep ending this way is an obvious bummer.

    Then again, the bounces have fallen our way the past two years.

    Painful offseason. These things never end well.

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  14. 216

    I think there would be less of it had they played better today. It is kind of like 2008 in that respect–plus the flagrants.

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  15. 5 championships in 11 years; other fans would DIE for that track record. There will be wholesale changes this summer including at the top, so it should make for one intriguing summer (if the league doesn’t lock out for a whole year). But the Lakers have to really ask the deep down question: do we keep on adding vets to supplement Kobe or do we have to start the youth movement and add young talent? We’ve shed Farmar, Ariza, Sasha, to go with more veterans around Kobe. That plan has worked for the most part, but failed disastrously this year. That will be the interesting battle this summer.

    Will miss posting and conversing with everyone but we will sure have an interesting offseason!

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  16. Mark,

    You’re right, many on this board felt this team was off. But it’s fair to criticize them. It would’ve been a bit different if they lakers didn’t bow out in this embarrassing fashion. They showed no heart and no class. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to support the lakers, but it’s no reason to sugarcoat anything.

    For example, yes we’ll all appreciate what phil has done for the lakers, but I personally believed he should’ve retired last season and i said it then to. And i felt the who season he wasn’t completely into to it. He had one foot out the door and really coached like it. I don’t think its Phil’s fault he wasn’t into the game anymore, its understandable, but he just waited a year to long. But the blame starts with him but surely doesn’t end with him. The only people that do not deserve blame is Joe Smith, Theo and Trey.

    Dy
    The lakers have to keep as much of the core together as possible, most likely it’ll be Kobe,Lamar, Artest, Pau. But they have to get younger because the lakers just really looked old and helpless.

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  17. people have got to chill. this is surely embarassing no question about it but come on did we just all collectively forget all the championships this team brought us. come on be rational here. yes, it was sad and yes it was embarassing but this series does not taint anything that came before this season. pau was still a beast last june and andrew still made real progress this season in terms of development so please keep your cool

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  18. 213, our disapointment is mainly because the Lakers, just like they showed in todays game, was just not entirely engaged throughout the whole season. They were arrogant, and just assumed they would be ready come playoff time. I can’t stand arrogance like that. What is sad is we get it from the players and fans, though there are exceptions of course.

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  19. Note for Mitch: Your team needs guards that can play some D, i.e., stop penetration more often than not, and also hit some threes.

    Note for Andrew: Not Barea’s fault that our guards are singularly unable to prevent penetration, so next time, try to disrupt Barea, and if he makes the basket anyway, take the ball and fire it off the head of the guard who didn’t prevent the penetration. That would be a more fitting response to what you’ve had to witness this season.

    Note for Ron: You didn’t deserve the suspension, but the league office is just like that burial vault, nice and shiny on the outside and full of the bones of dead humans on the inside. Thanks for walking Lamar past the Mavs bench (he didn’t deserve his ejection either, as the hit on Dirk wasn’t intended to injure but simply to send the message, you’re blowing us out, no need to talk smack, at least not given your prior history and the fact that we have guards who can’t stop penetration or shoot the three).

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  20. Renato Afonso May 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you Phil, but I believe we now need a new system… It will take a while to get back to the Finals if there’s a lockout next year, but we will eventually turn things around.

    Regarding LO and Bynum, it was bush league play, but I’d rather have Bynum pissed and doing something like that than having him simply not caring enough. Yes, it was bad, but apparently he cared… I believe he didn’t do this to Barea but rather to send a message to his teammates. Let me believe that because otherwise there’s simply no way to defend him. On LO, no big deal. Elbows are thrown in basketball games…

    I’m now starting to wonder if the triangle is the way to go for the following seasons. The triangle works with lockdown D on the perimeter and knocking down open shots. The offense thrives on being able to free any particular player to shoot with plenty of time. We don’t have the athleticism on the wings to play lockdown D and get the fast-breaks and we don’t have guys able to knock down open shots. For all his faults, Sasha was a useful player. Obviously the problems go far beyond that.

    But several posts will came concerning the Lakers and what should we do with this team. There’s time to talk about that later.

    Right now I’m rooting for Dallas. If we get swept, better be by the champions. And… Nowitzki deserves a ring. He’s an awesome player who got robbed of a title against Miami due to outrageous calls by the referees. I believe Wade shot half of his career free throws in that series. So, I’m really rooting for him. Also, guys like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash and Grant Hill also deserve a ring for everything they brought to the game. Kidd and Nash made point guard play a thing of beauty for the younger crowds and gave several guys career years and amazing contracts. Hill is just a classy guy who plays the game as it is supposed to be played. Phoenix got no chance but maybe Dallas has and Kidd really deserves a ring.

    So, for Kidd and Nowitzki, I’ll be rooting for Dallas.

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  21. The last time we ended a season like this, we went into the summer fully committed and hungry. We were sick with the bitter taste of embarrassment and returned with vigor on both ends of the floor. We dominated all year long, swept every other contender during the season, and won the championship on the road against Orlando.

    Will the team have the same composition next year, from the coach to the role players? Most likely not. But you can count on Kobe and at least a few key guys returning, and they will be ready. In ’08, as disappointed as I was with the Boston loss, I was even more excited for the next season.

    That’s how I feel now. We’ll get better in the offseason, we’ve got an extra month of rest (maybe more with a lockout), and we’re back to that mindstate where every possession counts on our quest to a ring. That’s where we need to be.

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  22. If they can add a D. Howard and get a young point
    guard they will be back next year. Sam Young is a good perimeter player and they need Derron Williams. It all depends on the CBA.

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  23. I’m leaving #222 up because I just want to kindly ask that we leave speculation on player acquisition or the new coach for later threads when we open up it up during the off-season. That comment raises a very good point about the CBA, but there are many things to look at moving forward. Thank you, all.

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  24. @222

    Geez, anybody else? With all the Lakers locked in deals, you’re dreaming.

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  25. Also, I don’t care what anyone thinks about this: The commenting guidelines will hold. No baiting comments, no insults. We’ll be respectful here, if nothing else.

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  26. Thoughts…

    – I love Andrew, but he was not sending a message. He has a habit of making immature decisions when the chips are down. Not the mark of a leader. It makes me sad to say that.

    – Thank you for the ride(s) PJ. You’re not perfect but damn you’re good. It truly is a sad day and it makes me feel old that you’re actually gone.

    – Kobe cannot carry this team anymore, at least not with the injury load that he used to be able to overcome. The ankle/foot twists and arthritic dribbling right hand combined with the day-to-day changes in the capabilities of his knees is too much. Defenders know how to take away most of what he can do when he’s so handicapped. Give him a couple extra days off and he looks much better.

    – Perhaps what’s really wrong with the Lakers is that they don’t have a proper pecking order. Kobe’s #1, but Pau kind of tried to be #1 at the end of last season and the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Andrew came back from injury and sort of claimed the #2 spot and Pau regressed to #3 afterward.

    – Or maybe there really is some kind of rift? No teamwork. Baffling. Only they know for sure.

    – Is Brian Shaw the right person to take over? My money is on JVG and a new defense first system. With new coaches come new players, so expect some turnover, though bet on Artest remaining.

    I love the Lakers, but the shirt I bought this year went in the garbage. I’ll get a fresh one next season.

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  27. blue and gold through and through here, but just want to commend the Mavs for never letting up.

    They beat the champs, not by trying to outduel them, but by shooting right over them. Just because the Lakers model (going big and long) worked the last few seasons doesn’t mean it’s the only model that works. Combine that with a hungry team versus a team that was tired and this perfect storm scenario couldn’t have been played better.

    They flat out shot the lights out. Thank you, Lakers, PJ, and good luck Mavs.

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  28. The pain gives meaning to the joy. If we want to be fans of this championship organization, we get everything that goes with it. It hurts so much because of the value of what is being relinquished.

    Losses like today’s makes me appreciate the championships won. It reminds me how hard it is to win a championship, and how tenuous the hold on it is.

    1972 means more because of Don Nelson’s lucky bounce in 1969; Reed’s guts and Frazier’s perfection in 1970. 1985 is sweeter because of Worthy’s ill fated pass and Magic’s missed free throws in 1984.
    1987 may have been the best Laker team of all-time, but would that championship have meant as much without having to endure the 4-1 dismissal to Houston in 1986?

    Kobe cried in 2003 because he was passing the torch of 3 straight titles to the Spurs.

    The descent from the mountain top has to hurt. Falling from the foothills isn’t painful because nothing was gained. No heights scaled. No peaks conquered.

    I will take 15/16 from 3 land by the likes of Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic because Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher’s 3’s in Orlando resulted in a championship. I’ll take getting swept in the conference semis because I can still see the purple and gold confetti falling over Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher as they hugged at center court after rallying from 13 down to beat the Celtics in game 7 last June.

    And I know, from being a Laker fan for 40 years that the darkness that envelops now will yield to the light of yet another championship run.

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