Today’s clash with the Dallas Mavericks will be a playoff preview only in the sense that these two teams could see each other again very soon. Without Kobe Bryant it is hard to truly call Sunday’s matinee meeting a glimpse of what to expect should we revisit another Lakers-Mavs postseason faceoff.
Currently the Lakers have the Mavs right where they want them, at the sixth seed. If things stay the way they are with the Lake Show sitting third in the West then we’ll see a first round rematch of last season’s second round pairing. We all know how that series ended. This time around things can and should be much different.
Unlike last season the Lakers matchup much better with the Mavericks. There is no JJ Barea to deal with on the perimeter and no Tyson Chandler to contend with in the paint. The loss of those two players has put a serious damper on Dallas’ mission to repeat as NBA champions. So too has the entire Lamar Odom debacle.
L.A. won’t have to worry about the chickens coming home to roost as Odom was sent home with pay by the Mavs this week. You can factor out L.O. being the x-factor against L.A. much to the liking of Kobe. Bryant recently expressed his hopes that Dallas wouldn’t figure out how to get the best out of Odom. Looks like wishes do still come true.
Aside from the obvious revenge factor the Lakers stand a better chance of advancing against the Mavs. Memphis is hovering just inches above Dallas right now. If the Grizzlies fall into L.A.’s lap there’s a good chance the Lakers could be one and done in the playoffs. Memphis is a team the Lake Show just doesn’t want to see.
Dallas provides the Lakers with the most favorable matchup. Both teams are of the veteran variety so half court hoops will be on the agenda, an area L.A. excels in. This time around the Lakers will have the services of Ramon Sessions which will make life slightly more miserable for Dallas. Having to contend with Sessions is nothing like playing four on five when Derek Fisher was still a Laker.
So in some sense this Sunday is indeed a playoff preview. Though the Lakers will be without Bryant they still boast of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Mavs don’t have the same size anymore to handle the Lakers’ twin towers. That alone is another reason why L.A. wants Dallas.
It might not be an exact playoff preview but there is plenty riding on Sunday’s outcome. If nothing else we’ll get an idea of just how far along the Kobe-less Lakers are.