Kobe Bryant has expressed legitimate concern about the Dallas Mavericks after the Game One loss at Staples Center.
This team can beat us, it's clear, Bryant said.
That was an unusual comment from Bryant, and perhaps served as a motivating factor for Los Angeles.
The Lakers know that Dirk Nowitzki will be at his best, and the Lakers can also expect strong defense from Shawn Marion.
But this game will belong to the Lakers. Phil Jackson is a great game planner, and he is well aware the Lakers are too big for Dallas.
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol only combined for 18 shots in Game One. The number of shots those two take tonight will hover at about 25, and could be around 30. The Lakers will try to get Nowitzki into foul trouble, and save Bryant's energy for the fourth quarter.
Bryant missed a late shot near the end of Game One, and he be inspired tonight. The Mavericks don't have a great defensive player like Bruce Bowen or Shane Battier to bother Bryant, so the Black Mamba may have the liberty to drive on Dallas.
A key player for the Lakers will be Ron Artest. When Artest plays well, the Lakers often win. He made only one shot on eight attempts in Game One, and though he's had his struggles this season, Artest will likely put up a better effort in Game Two.
The player the Mavs need to heat up in Jason Terry. An effective combo guard, Terry is capable of giving the Lakers fits with his ability to find a spot on the perimeter to hit an open shot.
It will be up to Derek Fisher and Steve Blake to not allow Terry to go on a scoring spree.
Another player for Rick Carlisle to get more involved will be Tyson Chandler. Known as a strong defensive presence, Chandler is capable of getting points off offensive rebounds and garbage plays.
Dallas should be aware that the Lakers will be playing with desperation, and intensity.
PREDICTION: There is no way the Lakers don't put up a big fight tonight on their home court. Should the Lakers lose, they will be down 0-2 in the series going back to Dallas, and that would be a disaster. Expect Bryant and Lamar Odom to step up their games tonight, and for Artest to not struggle the way he did in Game One. Though Dallas has plenty of weapons, it will be Nowiztki who carries the offense tonight, and the German big man will actually take more than the 22 shots he hoisted up in Game One. It will be a bad strategy, though, as the Lakers will defend him a little better than in the first game.
PREDICTED SCORE: Lakers 95, Mavericks 89,