Written by: Lena Adebowale
Let’s cut to the chase, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t experienced much success in the playoffs. If we take a look back at the 90’s, the Mavericks did not make one single playoff appearance. At the beginning of the new millennium, the future of the Mavericks organization brightened. In 2001, the Mavericks returned to the post-season behind the play of Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Steve Nash. Nowitzki is the only remaining piece of that big three, Finley and Nash have moved on and found success in Boston and Phoenix respectively.
Fast forward to 2011, the Mavericks are currently third in the Western Conference standings. If the playoffs began today, the Portland Trail Blazers would be the Mavericks first round opponent. Dallas leads that match-up (2-1), so for the sake of this editorial, let’s assume the Mavericks defeat the Blazers in the first round. With every star aligned, the Lakers and Mavericks would meet in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Potential match-up problems for the Lakers are minimal. Individually, the Lakers have trouble defending the pure agility of Shawn Marion and the lightning speed of Jason Terry. However, team defense can stop both players from turning a potential playoff meeting into a nightmare. Going a bit further, I must mention the Mavericks starting center, Tyson Chandler.
Chandler averages nearly a double-double with 10 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The nine year veteran from Dominguez High School is a force to be reckoned with. Chandler is a real defensive threat in the paint. When matched up against Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom, he can be quite a menace. The Lakers advantage in the front court is Andrew Bynum. Bynum dominated the Mavericks in the previous meeting, scorching the stat sheets with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
The Mavericks will lean heavily on Dirk Nowitzki, and in the playoffs he averages more than 20 points and six rebounds per game. Still, there is something that the Mavericks lack. The team has never won the most critical games. On the other hand, the Lakers have won many times before and Kobe Bryant is the greatest closer in the NBA. Bryant will score points, make plays and create problems for every defender. If the latter half of the regular season is any indication, the championship spirit lives within the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Dallas Mavericks simply don’t match-up.