The defending champs are officially on the ropes. The Los Angeles Lakers lost the first two games of their NBA playoffs betting affair with the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, and now, they have to win at least one of the next two at the American Airlines Center just to stay alive in the Western Conference Semifinals.
It’s not all that often that we see a Head Coach Phil Jackson team lose its composure, but that’s what has happened to the Lakers this week. There just seems to be some dysfunction going on right now for the men in purple and gold, and this just isn’t going to cut it against a team as strong as the Mavs. Ron Artest made a boneheaded play on Wednesday, basically giving a clothesline to Jose Barea at the end of the game, and as a result, he has been suspended for this encounter. Dare we say that Kobe Bryant looks old and washed up? That really is the case right now the Black Samba, as he only scored 23 points on Wednesday, marking one of the worst games that he has had in a postseason that has had very, very few true highlights. Kobe isn’t playing anywhere near 40 minutes per game any longer, and it is clear that the team that he was once able to carry is now nothing more than a squad chock full of players that, at times, needs to carry him. Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had double-doubles in the Game 2 beat down at the hands of the Mavs, but it clearly wasn’t enough to get the job done.
No team in the NBA playoffs is playing better defensively right now than are the Mavericks. They are holding teams to 88 points per game allowed, and they were significantly better than that in the 93-81 Game 2 win at Staples Center. Sure, we know that the Lakers aren’t shooting 2-for-20 from beyond the arc for this whole series, but just to be able to do it once was remarkable. The Lakers scored 32 points in the second half of that game. We keep saying that it isn’t about the points or the rebounds, but the timing of it all for Dirk Nowitzki. He scored 24 points and had seven boards, but it was the leadership that he really brought to the table that won Game 2. Shawn Marion was the second highest scorer on the team with 14 points, and he was the leader with nine rebounds. The bench had a nice game, as Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, Jose Barea, and Brendan Haywood combined for 30 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists against just four turnovers.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks Pick: Though there doesn’t really seem to be a reason to believe that the Lakers are going to turn it around, we do think that it is going to happen. Bryant and the gang are just too good to fall behind 3-0, and even though they are dogs, we still think that the Lakers +2.5 is the right play.
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.