Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Darius Soriano —  April 2, 2013

Records: Lakers 38-36 (9th in the West), Mavericks 36-37 (10th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (8th in the NBA), Mavericks 103.6 (T 12th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (18th in the NBA), Mavericks 104.1 (20th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Mavericks: Mike James, OJ Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Nash (out), Metta World Peace (out), Jordan Hill (out for the season); Mavericks: Rodrigue Beaubois (out), OJ Mayo (probable)

Mavericks Blogs: Check out The Two Man Game for very good analysis on this team.

Keys to game: Expect a buzz in the crowd tonight with Shaq’s jersey set to be retired and this game meaning so much to both teams in terms of the playoff chase. The Lakers and Mavs are currently 9th and 10th in the conference, both chasing the suddenly red hot Jazz for the final spot in the tournament. The Mavs are also trying to get back to .500, a milestone that will allow them to shave the gloriously hideous beards they decided to grow until they got back to an even record. So lots on the line (both trivial and not so much) in this game.

With all that said, a major key to this game will simply be playing with the requisite focus and energy. The Lakers have long been in “playoff mode”, but have suffered some setbacks in intensity and focus in the past couple of weeks. Tonight, they’ll need to recover the form they showed in the final three quarters of the Kings game, but put it forth for the entire contest. Every loose ball needs to be theirs; every hustle play needs to be made by them. That’s a bit of an exaggeration of course, but this game must feel that way for them to win.

From an execution standpoint, the Lakers are going to need to lean heavily on Kobe, Dwight, and Pau to play multiple roles. Kobe will need to be both a scorer and a distributor. With Steve Nash sitting this game out, Kobe will be the primary ball handler in the P&R and will need to balance his shot taking and distributing, getting his mates involved by picking them out for good shots. If Kobe can get Dwight the ball on the move the rim early in the game, it could go a long way in setting the tone of the offense by establishing the paint and forcing the Mavs to sink below the foul line defensively. This can open up the rest of the team’s perimeter game with Meeks and Blake benefitting from open shots when the D is forced to rotate.

Speaking of Dwight, he’ll need to be a force inside on both sides of the floor. The Mavs aren’t a great inside team, but they can threaten the paint via penetration out of isolations and in the P&R. If Dwight can shut those plays down, the Lakers can pressure the wings defensively and try to take away the jumpers that fuel their attack. If Dwight can block and alter shots inside, it can also lead to transition chances where he can run the floor and try to carve out early post position against Brand and Kaman. If Dwight can get some deep post touches, he should not only get some easy baskets but also draw plenty of fouls (and trips to the FT line) which can help sustain the Lakers’ offense if their shots aren’t falling.

As for Pau, he’ll have the most important role of the night because he’ll need to be a scorer, a facilitator, and a defender. He’ll likely be used as a finisher in the post and in the P&R, where he’ll need to be assertive in looking for his own shot to keep the defense honest. He’ll also serve as a passer from the elbow in the Lakers’ HORNS sets, picking out Dwight, Kobe and the shooters for open shots coming off various screen actions. But his most important role will be as a defender against Dirk all over the floor. The big German has found his game in the past few weeks, resembling the player who put the Mavs on his back en route to the 2011 title. He’s making his jumper, is posting up more, and is even putting the ball on the floor when his man crowds him. Pau will have his hands full, but if he can even slightly slow Dirk down, it will go a long way towards winning this game.

As for the rest of the team, they’ll need to think defense first while still hitting enough shots to not be a liability on the other end. One match up I’ll be watching closely is at shooting guard. Meeks guarding Mayo is a big key to this game with the results likely tilting the contest in the victor’s favor. If Mayo is hitting shots and attacking Meeks with good success, the Lakers’ defense will suffer as rotate and show help. That will open up shots for Dirk, Marion, and Brand — shots they can surely knock down. But if Mayo struggles, it will limit one of the Mavs’ more important offensive performers and have them searching for points from players who are less capable of providing them.

I really can’t stress how important this game is. With only 8 games left in the Lakers’ season, they need to win one more game than the Jazz do down the stretch and that makes every game one that needs to be one just to keep them moving in the right direction. The fact that they can also push the Mavs a game further back in the standings makes it even more valuable.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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89 responses to Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. Let’s GO Lakers!!!! Let’s make this a night to remember! Big Shaq Diesel will bring a lot of great energy to Staples, hope we capitalize on it. Also you know D12 is gonna have to show up and show up BIG on a night like this.. The passing of the torch from one Superman to the Next!

  2. Kobe Alert: Wow ! Kobe just moved by Wilt Chamberlain on the All Time Scoring List ! This is amazing even to me, and I have been a “Kobe Rules” guy from the very beginning. Even during the Del years, there was just something about him that made me want to follow him like no other athlete. By the 2000 season I knew he was going to possibly replace Magic as my ATF. To weigh in on the greatest Laker conversation: I am going with Kobe (what a shock right). One primary argument that has not been brought up in the prior thread, is the fact that Magic won all 5 of his with KAJ. Kobe has his titles split between 2 completely different groups of guys (DF being the only exception). This is something that Michael did not even do, and most of the greatest of all time have not.

    In addition to moving up to the 4 slot in All Time scoring, Kobe moved into 12th alone on the minutes list and pushed Moses into 13th. He has just 5 more games to go to catch Hakeem for 22nd there. Please note that KB is 22nd in games and 12th in minutes – do the math – the guy is a work horse has simply played huge minutes in many games during his career (and this is in spite of the Del years). He needs just 8 FGs to catch Elvin for 6th. He needs only 5 dimes to move by Avery Johnson for 32nd. he could do both of those tonight.

  3. Sorry – i tried hard for this one but missed it. Kobe Alert is 11-4 in the top slot. Who would expect otherwise – I mean it is Kobe after all : )

  4. Golden opportunity to put the Mavs down for the count, i expect Kobe to be in Mega Mamba mode with Shaq watching on, i dare to say this is the most important game on the season, every game is more important than the prior one, this is it people lets leave the negativity far far away. GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!! Btw love the Kobe alerts :)

  5. You are not goung to stop Dirk so let Pau and Earl pound him as much as possible. Meeks on Mayo scares me. Wondering if Kobe should take on that challenge. Looking for a real pounding by Lakers to send these guys away for good.

    Let’s go guys!

  6. Key question…does Howard play BIG or play small with Shaq watching on?

  7. I gotta go with BIG, Mark – bring it on Dwight!

  8. @PurpleBlood, I am with you. After all, it follows one of his best games of the season, with fan love at home, and the “familiarity” of Kobe operating as the chief distributor with Nash out. Go Lakers!

  9. There have been a lot of “must games” lately, but the Lakers really have to win this one. Basically, IMO, if they lose, we can forget the playoffs.

  10. It is me or the Lakers have been all over the Mavs on D? The urgency is evident.

  11. Meeks just kills me. Stupid play at end. Expect to pound these guys if guys make open shots. Jamison/Pau 0 for 6.

  12. Way to go Duke of Earl! nice play off the bench so far

  13. Looking like Kobe might play the whole game.

  14. If Kobe continues setting these kats up, they’re going to have to convert. Good to see Meeks knock down a couple.

  15. Let’s go Lakers!

    I’m loving these defensive minded Lakers.

    The “Duke” is trying to make up for his previous non-scoring games. LOL. Good thing he made that last shot because Kobe was on his right calling for the ball. Earl has his legs back, so that move to the bench has done him good.

    MDA seems as though he’s finally figured out how to play this team. I’ve given him much flack, even though I know he didn’t have a training camp. I still think he needs to add one more man for stunt minutes off the bench.

  16. Every time I watch this team play like this I start to believe. Hustle on both ends of the court and Howard stepping up to contest penetration. Role players stepping up and hitting shots. Kobe managing the game like Peyton Manning…. This is good stuff right here!

    Then, they will forget everything that they “figured” out from one half to the other. Well, I’m going to have a beer and hope that this team decides to play like this for the rest of the season.

    /Cheers Here’s to a run like this all the way into the playoffs!

  17. Sweet Kobe. Sweet.

  18. What a sweet behind the back pass from Kobe to Dwight!

  19. This here with Kobe at PG and Clark playing is a darn good team.

  20. I have not seen Kobe this effectively aggressive in some time.

    In other news Dirk apparently just got rescued off some desert island – what is with the homeless guy thing he is rocking? He looks like he would collect urine and fingernail clippings.

  21. Is Kobe seriously going to play the entire half?

  22. Steve Blake has been quiet in the 2nd quarter. His first quarter provided the Lakers with floor spacing, defense and hustle.

    Pau needs to be more aggressive on offense. Teams will start to play him for the pass, and he’ll create turnovers.

    Congratulations, Shaq!!!!! The guy was a beast!

  23. oh, is the halftime going to be longer than usual due to ceremonies?

  24. Good lord they announced Phil and the cheer at Staples is louder than anything I have ever heard there before. They think he has just been hired back!!

  25. Oh Phil is just rubbin’ it in… poor Sacto!

  26. harold, remember KB played all but about 21 seconds last game

  27. @purpleblood

    that’s why i’m asking. its as if he’s all but sure he’s going to retire soon and is burning himself out.

  28. The we want Phil chant is shaking the arena…and MDA’s moustache.

  29. Great ceremony honoring Shaq, Thank You Shaq.

  30. Small detail love: His retired jersey is period accurate.
    Small detail annoyed: They put his name and number on the front of the jersey.

  31. In typical Shaq fashion he thanked everyone but his teammates. I think the Staple Center ushers even got a thanks.

    I miss Shaq’s dominance but I don’t miss Shaq.

  32. Joe (at 9:06), hahahahaha, fantastic
    harold, good point, thanks, but we know Mamba, he´s all-universe! he`ll do whatever it takes

  33. kehntangibles April 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    @ nomuskles – I was just coming on to post that!!!!

    I missed the first part of the ceremony – what did Kobe say?

  34. Jeanie Buss HUBBA HUBBA, great montage of Shaq’s Laker career THE ALLEY OOP always make the hairs of my neck stand up i was on that game,one of the most dramatic games i ever witnessed.

  35. Phil’s moustache > MDA’s moustache?

  36. Joe your in rare form tonight. You Should write for Letterman!

  37. Phils with his zing
    to the Sacto Queens lol

  38. To those talking about Kobe minutes, i think he just got more than a quarter worth of rest lol.

  39. Much Respect Shaq. An Honor That’s Well Deserved.
    The “We Want Phil” Chants Were Mesmerizing.

    Now Let’s Handle Our Business In This Second Half.

  40. I was lucky enough to meet Shaq back in `97 – the man is HUGE
    I was working in the hotel business in Buenos Aires when Shaq was there promoting his reebok (i think) footwear – got to talking with his bodyguard (no sh**!) Jerome, sweet cat, who after finding out I bleed Purple, asked if I wanted to meet the Diesel..you can imagine I said `Darn Straight!´
    Anyway, Shaq came down a while later and asked me if we had Cuban cigars for sale, I showed him our selection of `cubanos´ and after he enquired if I could bill them to his room (about 5 cigars i remember) I said `there´s no way I´m charging you for these Shaq! You´re a Laker now!´ haha, he gave me a big ol´ Diesel smile and walked away…good stuff

  41. @Ken I am trying humor to deal with this season at this point…it’s not working yet but I am going to keep trying.

  42. C’mon now are you kidding me?

  43. 16 pt lead down to 5. Unbelievable! Game after game after game this team pulls this crap! Will they ever learn? Figure it out! Geez! Smh

  44. Do something lame duck. Change line up, call time out, something before the season is over. Phil must be laughing.

  45. Lakers not responding well to Dallas defensive adjustments – they are doubling down hard on Kobe and we have little to no off the ball movement.

    Dallas is otherwise making tough shots – no huge complaints about D.

  46. Earl Clark wants it more.

  47. Thank God for Clark there – busted through the cellophane over the rim. Edit: Clarksanity!

  48. Why is Pringles bringing in Meeks after a 7 point run. Is he out of his mind?

  49. Great sequemce by Clark he is responsible for all Lakers point after the Mavs cut it to 5.

  50. Thank you E-Clark. We were stuck in neutral.

  51. monster game from the Duke ! (11th double-double of the year for him)

  52. Earl Clark having a good game.

  53. Now can we continue this run instead of getting to a certain point and then saying, hmmm ok, that’s enough?

  54. So anyone who wants proof that MDA is a terrible coach can look at the mins played tonight for Meeks and Clark and their respective stats. Dallas is not overly speedy, no need to play downsized.

  55. How many times have we seen that pass to Meeks and a miss? If the guy on the sidelines can’t figure out they are doubling and tripling Kobe then we have a problem.

  56. My gosh can you get Blake some help. Can’t you see Collision is to quick and a good coach told him to attack. Go with Duhon and Blake or have Kobe take ball. Man o man.

  57. Kobe with the D? Then a great pass to Pau. I likey!

  58. Kobe with a great block and a dime to Gasol form the slam dunk.

  59. Pau, Blake and Meeks are messing up the game. Pau is worthless out there. He is like a girl. Get him out of there. Please.

  60. Take it back. Nice move.

  61. It’s amazing how much better we are when we slow it down and play a half court game.

  62. Ken, your solution to Blake’s ballhandling woes is to play a Blake-Duhon lineup? Wow … speechless.

  63. Take Pau out? Why? He has a couple of turnovers but he has scored 8 points on the quarter, the Lakers are riding him. He needs to be there

  64. agree with you tonyt, and with a 7-man lineup to boot!

  65. Hack-a-Dwight its on

  66. The “Duke” has done a good job when defending Dirk.

    Howard is honoring Shaq by missing so many freethrows.

  67. paying tribute to shaq by hacking howard?

  68. Do you want to win or gain his confidence? They really should take Dwight out.

  69. Blizzard I know I was historical. Sorry this game means to much. I need playoffs!

  70. Dwigt he is making them so whats there to whine about, Jesus!!!

  71. Kobe 1 rebound away from a triple double.

    Going to be funny if it’s off a Dwight missed FT.

  72. Never mind, even better. Off a Dirk miss.

  73. Kobe gets a triple double.

  74. Its official, Kobe has a triple double!!!!

  75. Gotta love Pau congratulating Kobe on the triple-dub there. Dwight buckled down and made them when they counted.

  76. this one is in the fridge folks!
    nice D on Nowitski, congrats to Pau and the Duke of Earl
    (& Kobe´s triple-double!)

  77. Is it sad that Kobe has the best looking hook shot in the entire association? Bigs really need to learn that shot.

  78. Kobe lazily sits out last 54 seconds, what a bum.

  79. Amnesty that Cuban, Again!!!

  80. Amnesty that again Mark!

  81. Watching Kobe body language and his comments i have the feeling next season is going to be his last.

  82. Fern, agreed that based upon Kobe’s comments he’ll give it his all next season and that’ll be it championship or not. He’s sacrificed so much of life to play this game, it’s time for him to know when to fold ‘em. Thus, I relish his every move on court. It’s going to be interesting to see what career Kobe will tackle when he retires from basketball. He’ll have to find something that drives him, albeit at a much lower level than basketball.

    Congratulations, to Shaq that was an entertaining jersey retirement.

  83. Hang in there guys.

    HANG IN THERE!!!

  84. If next season is kobes last, mitch got work to do this offseason. Resign dwight, trade pau or nash, maybe fire MDA. Lets get kobe his 6th ring.

  85. If they resign Dwight, and i believe they will they cant sign anyone for longer than a year, well maybe Clark but after next season, the Lakers can finally solve the cap situation, they cant sacrifice the long term future of the team, its going to be a dicey situation this summer, even more dificult than 2014, because they are going to have to balance what could be Kobe’s last season and all the cap space they will have on 2014. But in Kuptchak we trust.

  86. Little off topic, but is it just me but i think Melo’s 50 point game are the mist overrated 50s i seen in my life i bet everything i have he would not had sniffed 50 if the Heat decided to suit up everybody, Lebron and Wade arent injured, they are resting. They aint fooling anybody

  87. Other then the finals, a Laker-Spur series would by far have the biggest ratings. It would be a crime to deprive the true fans of basketball Kobe in his final years.

    I can’t help but think the league, which makes their money from TV advertising based on viewers, won’t find a way to get the Lakers in the playoffs. Some odd calls against Dallas tonight.

    Not saying this is fixed like Storage Wars but a Utah-Spurs series
    would get worse numbers then a Honey Bo Bo marathon in Bel Air.

    Time to repent Mr. Stern.

  88. As long as Dwight shoots 50%, it is not a bad proposition for the Lakers to have him at the line. That is still pretty efficient offense. We have to see it in that light. If the team needs a scoring percentage higher than 50% down the stretch, they deserve to lose the game.

    I might be out of my mind, but I think the Lakers have a shot against the Spurs.

  89. I should say we won this game by getting into the same mindset. For this game, at least, the players had some sense of “urgency”, or “this is a game we must win” type of feeling. And when we play like that, it’s pretty hard to stop us.

    How to sustain this level of effort? Urgency. Play every game like it’s the last (and it might be for some guys on the roster).

    Enjoy the ride now. It is possible.

    Cheers.