Lakers-Dallas Preview: Karma's Name is Jeanie Buss

"Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time..."

Those prophetic words of wisdom were tweeted by none other than LeBron James. He graced us with his wisdom while the Cavs were setting professional basketball back about 20 years en route to a 55-point blowout loss to our Lakers.  

These days, the "chosen one" only takes his foot out of his mouth long enough to say something else that will jam his foot further in. Since his supposed "retweet," both LeBron and Chris Bosh have suffered ankle injuries and the Heat have lost four games in a row. C'mon Son!  LeBron should practice what he preaches.

If King James were paying attention, he would have noticed what Karma did to Mark Cuban.  

From ESPN:

"I love that Jeanie Buss' boy-toy had something to say about us," Cuban said while sweating on the stair-stepping machine in the Mavs' workout room. "I don't know if it was his thought or Jeanie's thought, but it's nice to know that she lets him speak in public about other teams."    

That's what Mark Cuban had to say after Phil's remark about the hard-to-fill "vacuum" Caron Butler's injury left the Mavs. No jab from Phil. No apparent ill will. It seemed an honest observation on an unfortunate situation. Not only was Butler out, but Dirk Nowitzki had been out with an injury for the the previous five games. Still, the Mavs had won two games in a row after losing Caron, before Cuban's verbal assault on the Zen Master happened. Since his fateful words? A six-game losing streak.

Crazy. Karma is a bitch after all, and her boy-toy coaches the Los Angeles Lakers. (Btw, I don't mean bitch in that way.)

I'm sure Cuban didn't mean anything by his statement. He's one of the more honest and playful owners we'll ever come across. It was a just a joke. Even if Phil is Jeanie's boy-toy, there was no harm. No one hurt. The same cannot be said for the Mavs' current situation.

After jumping out to a stellar 24-5 start, they've lost nine of eleven games, including six games in a row. The two wins coming against the pathetic Cavs and injury-riddled Blazers. Granted, they had to play the first nine of those games without Dirk. There's going to be some period of adjustment after Dirk's return, and even more so because his return comes after Caron's fall. Any momentum gained during that hot start is probably gone: the slate wiped clean, and the team dynamic changed. They might have to refind that groove or reinvent themselves. They've turned their roster over quite a bit over the years, yet still remain a top notch team and organization. If there's a team that can bounce back, count the Mavs as one of them.

What saves the Mavs is that this crisis point in their season happened in a stretch in which they played quality opponents like the Spurs, Thunder and Magic; and not-elite-but-no-easy-win teams like the Grizzlies, Bucks, Pacers and Raptors. If I'm a Dallas fan, I'd tell myself that the worst is almost over. That's about as bad a turn a team can take and it's not their fault. A turn not due to bad play, but injuries, and now, Dirk Nowitzki is back.  

I say "almost over" because the Lakers come to town finding their own groove. The Lakers are winners of eight of their last nine, and fresh off of what may be their best win of the season - over the OKC Thunder. Although Matt Barnes and little-used Theo Ratliff are out, the Lakers are relatively healthy. By healthy, I mean Andrew Bynum is playing at 100% and Kobe isn't showing much signs of knee or finger problems. With Bynum, their defensive intensity is back, and Kobe is playing at an ultra-efficient level that can make the Lakers the toughest team in the NBA to defend.

Up front, the Mavs are starting Brendan Haywood at center, Dirk at power forward and Shawn Marion at small forward. Tyson Chandler usually starts at center, but is questionable with a head cold (Kobe's knee and finger laugh at that). Haywood certainly has the size to match Andrew Bynum but hasn't been much of a factor this season. Experiencing what may be his worst season as a pro, he's only averaging 4.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Should Haywood be able to neutralize Bynum,  the matchup still forces Dirk to cover Pau Gasol.

Besides defense, Pau being guarded by a power forward should be the second-most important aspect of Andrew's presence. Dirk's lack of defensive prowess is a welcome sight for Gasol these days - or should be. Pau has really been struggling with size and strength lately. Although Dirk is 7'0" tall, defensively he doesn't play as big, and Pau should get back on track and have a field day. On offense, Pau and Lamar Odom's length and agility usually tend to give Dirk a hard time. Nowitzki doesn't score inside and the Lakers' length disrupts the easy jumpers Dirk enjoys shooting over shorter, slower power forwards. Shawn Marion isn't a factor anymore, and with his lack of ball-handling skills, Ron Artest should lock him down fairly easily so long as he doesn't lose him off the ball.

In the back court, Dallas will start Jason Kidd at point guard and Jason Terry at shooting guard. Kidd isn't a scoring threat. He's shooting an abysmal 33.5% from the field, including 32.1% from threes. He should draw Kobe as a defender, so that Kobe can save himself for offense. Hopefully, Kobe's recent increased defensive intensity and respect for Kidd won't force him to roam too much, simply due to the fact that Kidd is still great at setting up his teammates. That should leave Derek Fisher to chase Jason Terry around. Fish will have his work cut out for him. Although Terry hasn't made a three-pointer in five of his last six games, he's usually a Lakers killer. He can't be left open. I really hope he doesn't get hot enough to break out the "jet wings" celebration.

With Rodrigue Beaubois out, along with Haywood and Marion starting again, Dallas employs Brian Cardinal, DeShawn Stevenson, Sasha Pavlovic, JJ Barea, Ian Mahinmi, Dominique Jones, and Alexis Ajinca on their bench. Outside of Stevenson and Barea.... pew.

Normally, I'd break down some stats and tell you what they say about our next opponent. You can throw the stats out for this game. This is the first time the Lakers play the Mavericks this season, and too much has changed in the past two or three weeks to make any conclusions on what they may mean. The numbers are skewed by recent injuries. This game may not have the cache that it would have had a couple of weeks ago, and that worries me a little. We never know with these Lakers. It might be more of a game simply because of the Mavs' downturn. Let's hope the Lakers have no sympathy for them, and build upon the solid play from Monday night against the Thunder, and not Sunday's game against the Clippers.   A healthy Mavericks team is a dangerous team.  It should be a good game.

What would a Mavs preview be without reminding you of this? 


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