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Tyson Chandler (Compton Dominguez High School) and the Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of taking a commanding lead over the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Miami Heat are looking to do the same against the Boston Celtics. Photo by Jeff LewisDown 0-2, the Lakers and Celtics are on the verge of digging themselves into holes that are impossible to climb out of.By Jason LewisSports Editor
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are NBA royalty. They’ve won the last three championships and their renewed rivalry gave the league a shot in the arm that it needed.
But the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are having a grand time wiping the floor with the two teams that have made the NBA what it is. Down 0-2 does not sound like a horrible position to be in, but in reality it is. Teams who are down 0-2 in a series come back to win only six percent of the time. In the Lakers case, forget crunching the numbers on teams who lost the first two games at home. Only three teams have ever come back to win that series. The importance of Game 3 is great for both the Lakers and Celtics because no team in NBA history has come back from a 0-3 deficit. The Lakers chances of coming back are tougher because they have to win four out of five games, and they have two less home games than the Celtics to do it in. The Lakers have numerous problems. Kobe Bryant shooting the ball too much has been mentioned, but seeing that he’s shooting 46 percent for the series, which is about where a good shooting guard should be, he’s doing his part. Even with Bryant shooting the ball well, the Lakers have been out shot in both games and they averaged only 87.5 points per game. The Lakers cannot get consistent play out of any of their bigs and their bench was outscored 40-25 in Game 1 and 30-12 in Game 2.Backup guard Steve Blake, who is supposed to be the Lakers sharp shooter, is 0-6 through the first two games of the series, and he has not scored any points. Forward Matt Barnes is only 2-8 and he has only scored four points. Lamar Odom played well in Game 1, shooting 5-for-10 and scoring 15 points, but in Game 2 he was a no show, shooting 3-for-12 with only six points. The only bench player who is shooting the ball well is Shannon Brown, who has made 6-of-10 shots. Three-point shooting has been horrible for the Lakers. In Game 2 they only made 2-of-20 attempts and they did not hit any of them until late in the game, while the Mavericks made eight three-point baskets. Defensively the Lakers biggest problem is that they cannot stop forward Dirk Nowitzki. Pau Gasol, who hasn’t showed up at all in the playoffs, and Odom have no answer for anything that Nowitzki is doing. Whether it be from outside, from mid range, or from inside the paint, Nowitzki is hitting any type of shot that he takes. He has hit 20-of-38 shots (52 percent) and has averaged 26 points a game in the series. Toss in 10.5 rebounds per game and he has owned Staples Center. The thought of the Lakers flipping the switch is out the window and it is nearly time to hit the panic button. A Game 3 loss will mean that it is time to prepare the exit strategy. As for the Celtics, they’re chances look a little better because they play the next two games at home, but judging from the first two games against the Heat, that series could be a wrap very soon. The Heat are proving what the Lakers and Celtics have shown over the past couple of years. That the regular season really does not matter much. The Celtics beat up on the Heat on their way to a 3-1 regular season record against Miami, but through two playoff games the Celtics look old while the Heat look like they are ready to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics are not getting much production out of their big three and point guard Rajon Rondo has not been their to save the day. On the other side, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are taking turns on who gets to be Michael Jordan for the night, while the other one plays Scottie Pippen. Even though both the Lakers and Celtics are facing odds that would conquer most teams, their heads are bloody, but unbowed. That’s because the Lakers have Bryant and a team that has been able to find a way to win over the past few years while the Mavericks have always found a way to lose, and the Celtics just do not seem like they feel like losing at times, especially to the Heat, and that type of grit that they display has led them to two NBA Finals over the past three years. Game 3 for both of these teams will make or break them. Do not be surprised to see both teams wipe the court with their opponents to stay alive in the playoffs.
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