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NBA Pacific: Lakers vs. Mavericks

Photo - Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

Photo – Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

With fewer than 10 games left for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks – two of the three teams battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West – it’s do or die time.

The magnitude of each game down the stretch certainly increases and there’s no doubt that today’s game is the biggest of the season for the Lakers and Mavs, at least so far.

The Lakers have the opportunity to climb back into a tie for that eighth seed spot with Utah if they can pull out the home victory today, while a win for the Mavs would mean they would keep pace with the Jazz, while jumping to within just a half game of L.A.

With so much at stake, who will rise to the occasion and win this late season contest?

Even though the Lakers have the home court edge (they are 23-12 at Staples Center this season), odds makers are giving them just a three-point advantage today. This is likely because Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash could be game-time decisions with injuries. Bryant did play against the Kings on Saturday and had a fine game with 19 points and 14 assists, so you would think he’ll be ready to go today. Meanwhile, Nash’s status for the game against his former team is more questionable, as he left the Kings game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.

Like the Lakers, the Mavericks have stepped up their game during the second half of the season, but historically, they have struggled against L.A. The Mavs have lost 55 of the 67 of their all-time regular season meetings with the Lakers and are just 1-2 against Los Angeles this season. Dallas has only enjoyed one season in which it won two games against the Lakers, so if history repeats itself, the Mavs won’t be leaving Staples with a win.

However, Dallas has been incredibly resilient this season. Every time the Mavs are down, they seem to get back up. Saturday’s game against the Bulls provided a prime example, as the Mavericks outscored Chicago 15-1 in the final three and a half minutes and capped off the comeback with a game-winning three from Dirk Nowitzki.

“This game was kind of like the story of our season,” said Nowitzki, who finished with a season-high 35 points, according to ESPN.com. “Every time someone writes us off, we find a way to come back.”

Although we’re not writing off the Mavs by any means – because this game should be very close – the Lakers have the upper hand being at home today and having an impeccable track record against Dallas. We will definitely see who wants this one more, but we are going with the Lakers to cover -3 tonight at Staples.



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