The Dallas Mavericks were able to come back from a 16-point deficit in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their NBA Playoff match-up, but Game 2 could see some different match-ups involving Dirk Nowitzki: Specifically, Ron Artest guarding him.
“Dirk can play,” Artest told NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper. “But I’m definitely a better defender than guys on other teams that guard him. I would say I’m a better defender. I’m not going to say that he can’t score, that I can hold him to zero points … I mean, he hits jumpers over 7-footers anyway. But there’s other things I could do to make that work in my advantage.”
And, for what it’s worth, Nowitzki doesn’t exactly seem fearful of being guarded by the shorter Artest.
“I’ve practically seen it all in this league,” Nowitzki said. “It is my 13th year. Teams have guarded me with smaller and they’ve guarded me with bigger. They’ve double-teamed me, from baseline, from top. I’ve got to be ready for everything. Sometimes I’ve got to go quick and not even wait on the double team. It’s whatever. I can adjust. The good thing is, we’ve got a lot of shooters on the team that can spread the floor for me.”
While that match-up is interesting on the offensive end, the Mavericks will also have to be at their best on the defensive end as Kobe Bryant scored 36 points in Game 1, barely missing a buzzer-beater for the win, while Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each added 15 of their own.
If the Mavericks are able to pull ahead to 2-0 against the Lakers, that’d be quite the boon for a team that didn’t even look like it’d make it past the first round in some of their games against the Portland Trail Blazers.