The highly anticipated Lakers vs. Mavericks matchup is finally upon us. After the Mavericks swept the Lakers during the second round of the playoffs, Los Angeles has been able to spend time dwelling on the embarrassing exit. The game has a lot of importance riding on it – for both teams.
The Mavericks had a subpar start to the season with some big losses. Miami blew them out on Christmas day and to put it simply, the Mavs played consistent lackluster offense and defense throughout their first few games.
They gained trademark player Lamar Odom but he has yet to prove himself valuable inDallas. The Mavs however have begun to pick it up and now are at an 8-5 record, not horrible. This game in LA will be a turning point for them as well as the potential spark Odom needs to get going.
The Lakers also have had an undeniably rocky start, but similar to the Mavs, have begun to find a rhythm. Coming off a tough loss to their cross town rival – the Clippers – the purple and gold are fired up to redeem themselves. @paugasol tweeted this morning: "Today game against the current champions. Extra motivated. #GoLakers. #BeatDallas."
Gasol had really struggled during the playoffs against Dallas last year so he definitely has something to prove on the court tonight. Furthermore, Gasol has been playing mediocre this current season and is clearly in need of some extra motivation – and this might be it. As long as he can maintain his cool and not get too aggressive on the court we can expect a big game from him tonight. Andrew Bynum has a reputation to restore too. After committing an egregious foul on JJ Barea in the Lakers final defeat of the 2011 season, Bynum received a 5 game suspension from the NBA. Now that Bynum is back on the court and becoming a necessary piece to the Lakers success, tonight is a good test for him.
The venue of the game tonight is a huge advantage for the Lakers. This high profile game will fill the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles with über excited and hopeful fans. The Lakers have an opportunity tonight to reassert themselves. Players who have not been living up to their big names have a chance tonight to reinstate their credibility as some of the league’s premier players. An emotional game can be expected as well since there is a lot riding on this games result for both teams.
Both Dallas and the Lakers have similar records (Mavs are 8-5 and the Lakers are 9-5) that are both currently trending up. The weekly NBA power rankings has the Mavs moving from a 12 spot ranking to be placed 8th and the Lakers moved from being listed 13th to 6th. With that said – I am going to predict a dogfight of a game tonight – and the Lakers are going to pull ahead in the end. They literally dropped the ball during crunch time Christmas day against the Bulls, and suffered a loss to the Clippers two days ago – the Lakers are hungry for a big win. It is a given Kobe will show up ready to play and carry the team through the rough patches of the night. Gasol has been dreaming of this game for quite some time now and Bynum probably has too. McRoberts is back from his short-lived toe injury and seeking to establish himself as a solid member of the purple and gold. And the fact that Odom will be back in the Staples Center repping a different jersey this time will surely rev the engines of Los Angeles.
Whether you like the Lakers or not, this should be a great game of basketball to watch.
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