- Created on Saturday, 30 March 2013 19:46
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Jeff Noital
The Dallas Mavericks were ruled out by many to not be near the playoff picture this season with Dirk Nowitzki being out a few weeks in the beginning of the season. The team seemed to find a rhythm while he was gone, but they went through a streak that looked like it was going to be their demise for the year. When Nowitzki came back, the team got back on track and are now in contention for the eighth and final spot of the postseason behind the Lakers and Utah Jazz. With Dallas constantly breathing down the Lakers' neck, the pressure of constantly having to win games to clinch the final spot may be wearing the team down physically and mentally.
Another Texas team causing the Lakers troubles is the Houston Rockets. The Rockets season has been an overachieving one with their high octane offense carrying their team. One of the reasons for their success has been James Harden, a steal the team got in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They're currently in the seventh playoff spot and will most likely be locked in there barring a meltdown from the Golden State Warriors where they can capture the sixth seed or a meltdown in Houston where they'd drop to eighth. The Lakers not being able to move in the standings has put them against a corner where they have to win the majority of their games with little or no rest, especially with a Mike D'Antoni shortened rotation.
The San Antonio Spurs have also given the Lakers some worries. The Spurs have won the series matchup with the Lakers this season with two wins with one game remaining on April 14th. The losses for L.A. have not only pushed them down the standings, but they've also been disappointing ones by 2 and 3 points. Those losses have come in different ways. The first loss saw the Spurs grab the win with a Danny Green game winning 3-point shot over Kobe Bryant in an 84-82 game and the most recent was a high scoring game where the Lakers fell 108-105 to San Antonio. Both games have been two different styles of play, something San Antonio has been known to play depending on what tilts the odds in their favor. With the Lakers being stuck in the eighth spot, it could mean a first round matchup against the Spurs and that's something they really don't want to see. The Spurs' depth will play a huge part against their short rotation with older legs and the fact the Spurs have beaten them with both styles of play has to have an impact mentally on the team.
The Lakers will need to find motivation and keep their composure to get their wish to make the postseason, but they'll have to go through Texas later this season. They have a meeting with the Mavericks on April 2nd and end the season with their last two games visiting the Spurs and Rockets. The Lakers may have not wanted to mess with Texas this season, but Texas has messed with them and probably will cost them the playoffs in the process.