Friday, March 11, 2011
Lakers make it known: They want No. 2 seed
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- While the Dallas Mavericks have mostly stayed away from any proclamations regarding the importance of going into the postseason as the No. 2 seed, which would guarantee homecourt advantage in a potential second-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
For example: "We've got to finish out these  games and go from there," Mavs point guard Jason Kidd said. "You can't worry about if you're 2 or 3." (Actually, only coach Rick Carlisle has not downplayed recently the importance of seeding implications as L.A. comes to town Saturday night.)
The two-time defending champions had no problem Friday saying they do worry about being 2 or 3.
"I just don't want Mark [Cuban] to have another homecourt game against us, that's all," coach Phil Jackson said jokingly before turning a bit more serious prior to the Lakers' practice at the American Airlines Center. "We want homecourt advantage and that's important."
Dallas and L.A. play the second of three games this season Saturday night and the Mavs can take the season series with their earlier win at home on Jan. 19. A win Saturday would move Dallas 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference standings and three games up in the loss column.
However, winning the season series would only be good for confidence-building for the postseason. In the case the Mavs and Lakers are tied at the end of the regular season, the Lakers will own the tiebreaker because of a recently changed rule in which head-to-head matchup takes a backseat if one team is a division winner. The Mavs won't catch the Spurs in the Southwest Division and the Lakers hold an 11.5-game lead in the Pacific Division.
So, the Mavs will have to win the thing outright if they want the No. 2 seed.
In a Mavs-Lakers playoff series, homecourt edge would seem far more critical to Dallas than championship-tested, Kobe Bryant-led L.A. Then again, as Kidd said, seeding hasn't always played out for the Mavs. During their run to the 2006 NBA Finals, Dallas won Game 7 at San Antonio. As the No. 2 seed last season, the Mavs were bounced by the Spurs in the first round after splitting the first two at home. And no one needs reminding what the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors did to the No. 1 seed Mavs in 2007.
Still, a seventh and deciding game at the Staples Center would clearly place the Lakers as heavy favorites. L.A. is 2-0 over their last two title seasons in Game 7s at home, including last years NBA Finals clincher over the Boston Celtics.
"We care, we care. It's important to finish as high as possible, so yeah, we care, we care a lot about seeding," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "I think the last two championships we've won we always had homecourt advantage and we had some tough series. We understand playing at home is important."