Keys to beating the Mavs

The Lakers will be favored to defeat the Dallas Mavericks in their second-round series. Here’s how they could (should) win and advance to the next round:

1. Own the paint. The Mavericks are bigger and stronger than the undersized New Orleans Hornets, but not necessarily in the paint. Tyson Chandler, a 7-foot center, plays on the low post, but Dirk Nowitzki, another 7-footer, plays on the perimeter. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol could (should) be unstoppable for the second consecutive series.

2. Win the second unit battle. The Mavericks might have more depth than the Lakers at more positions, especially if Jason Terry starts hitting shots. The object of the game is to keep the contest close whenever the subs are on the floor. Keep the Dallas backups from making game-changing plays. It could prove to be a tough matchup, though.

3. Exploit this mismatch. The Mavs’ guards are smallish. They don’t have anybody who can line up with Kobe Bryant and it’s something the Lakers must remember. It might be different if Caron Butler was healthy but he’s not going to play in the series after injuring his knee Jan. 1 and undergoing surgery. Bryant, as ever, must be the Lakers’ go-to guy.

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