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2011 NBA Playoff Odds: Mavericks vs. Lakers Preview | Pick

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF Predictions: Mavs vs Lakers Series Preview

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Monday, May 2 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Wednesday, May 4 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Friday, May 6 at Dallas, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sunday, May 8 at Dallas, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Tuesday, May 10 at Los Angeles, TBA, TNT
Thursday, May 12 at Dallas, TBA, ESPN
Sunday, May 15 at Los Angeles, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
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Odds to win NBA Championship: Lakers +250, Mavericks +1200
Odds to win series: Lakers -380, Mavericks +290
Season series: 2-2

The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are ready to kick off the second round of the NBA Playoffs on Monday. Both showed a lot of flaws in the first round and should give each other a real battle.

The Lakers closed out their first-round series with New Orleans Hornets on Thursday, winning 98-80 to take the series 4-2. The Hornets certainly gave L.A. a bigger fight than most expected, and exposed some flaws on the defending champs. But even so, the Lakers covered their last two games of the series, winning by an average of 17.0 points per game.

One of the biggest concerns after the first round is Pau Gasol. Gasol enjoyed another solid season with the Lakers this year, averaging 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. That strong effort hasn’t translated into postseason success, however. Gasol was absolutely miserable in the first two games against New Orleans, coming up with just 16 total points and 11 total rebounds. He played better over the final four games—averaging 16.2 points and 7.5 boards per game—but hardly put in the kind of effort you expect from the second-best player on a championship contender.

At the other end of the spectrum, Gasol’s poor play gave Andrew Bynum a chance to shine. The youngster averaged 15.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game against the Hornets, while averaging only about 30 minutes per outing. Bynum’s wonky knees will prevent him from playing 40 minutes a night, but he’s making the most of the time he does get.

Los Angeles is playing fantastic defense so far. The club allowed New Orleans to score just 89.3 points per game, and after a Game 1 loss the Lakers allowed just 85.4 points per game, with a high of 93. Lifetime Bonus at BetOnline

Though plenty of observers picked Portland to upset Dallas in the first round, the Mavericks came through with a series win in six games. The Mavericks were brilliant against the spread, going 5-0-1 on NBA odds. In fact, the Mavs are 9-0-1 in their past 10 games against the spread.

Like Los Angeles, the Mavericks played some pretty stingy defense in the first round. They surrendered just 88.1 points per game and didn’t allow the Blazers to crack the 100-point mark even once.

It’s the other end of the floor Dallas has to figure out. Dirk Nowitziki and Jason Terry are the only reliable scoring options on this team, and even that was in question at times. Nowitzki averaging 27.3 points per game in the series, but his field goal percentage was way down until Game 6, when he went 11-for-17 for 33 points. Nowiztki needs to bring his A-game every night to have a chance against the Lakers.

Terry, meanwhile, scored 13 points or less in three of the first four games, as Dallas limped to a 2-2 tie with the Trail Blazers. He finally turned his game up a notch in the last two games, averaging 21.0 points.

There are rumors Dallas could get a boost from the sudden return of Caron Butler. The Mavericks were 24-7 with Butler in the lineup this season, before he went down with a torn knee ligament. Butler was averaging 15.0 points per game and would be a timely addition, though how much he’ll be able to play with so long on the shelf remains up in the air.

Even if Butler can’t play 40 minutes a game, he should give Dallas a bit of an emotional surge. That could be a difference maker, as the Lakers look disinterested at times—the unfortunate fallout from winning back-to-back titles. There’s no doubt the Lakers are the better team, though, and Kobe Bryant will pick them up when the time is right. This should be a war between two teams defending well but, in the end, Los Angeles has more scoring options come crunch time—especially if Gasol suddenly wakes up and tosses in a dominating performance or two.

Pick: Lakers in seven

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts.

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About Ian Van Den Hurk

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts. Looking for more sports betting tips and expert sports handicapping articles from Ian V? We've got your back...