After all, as Andrew Bynum (pictured) said after Wednesday's Game 2 loss, the Lakers don't trust in each other. His teammates and coach Phil Jackson downplayed those comments, saying Bynum was merely referring to defensive rotations, but the champs certainly aren't showing the chemistry and confidence it'll take to come back from this 0-2 hole in the Western Conference semifinals. With the next two games in Dallas, the Lakers won't be bolstered by the positive encouragement of a home crowd. (Though it was their own fans booing them Wednesday.) All they have is each other. We'll see if that's a good thing.
Will the Lakers miss Ron Artest?
Days after receiving the NBA's citizenship award, Artest's antisocial side came out at the end of Game 2 when he clotheslined Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, earning a suspension for tonight's Game 3. It's possible L.A. will be better off without him, given his 5 of 18 shooting in the series and uncharacteristically ineffectual defense. But putting Lamar Odom in the starting lineup damages the Lakers' depth, already a major handicap against Dallas, and Artest's had a knack for making big shots under playoff pressure. He was arguably the team's most consistent player in the first round against New Orleans.
Is Derrick Rose shooting too much?
The newly minted NBA MVP isn't a conventional point guard. He's a scorer, first and foremost, as evidenced by his 25 points and 19.7 shot attempts per game in the regular season. In the playoffs, he's upped those numbers to 26.7 and 22.7, but he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and receiving criticism for being the end-all, be-all of the Bulls' offense as they've struggled against the Pacers and Hawks. Some of that is by necessity with Chicago's No. 2 scorer, Carlos Boozer, nursing a toe injury and playing poorly, but Rose is taking Atlanta's defensive bait by hoisting three-pointers as well. Shooting just 21 percent from deep, he needs to stop launching seven or eight of them per game.
What can L.A. do about J.J. Barea?
It's no surprise that the Lakers haven't been able to guard Dirk Nowitzki; no one can, really. But it wasn't Dirk who was carving up L.A.'s defense in the second half of the Mavs' Game 2 victory. It was the smallest player on the court, Dallas backup guard J.J. Barea. Generously listed at 6-feet tall (he's more like 5-foot-9), the pride of Puerto Rico finished with 12 points and four assists in 17 lethal minutes. The Lakers used a small lineup to match up better with the Mavs, but Steve Blake and Derek Fisher were dead weight on both ends of the court. They'd be better off putting their five best players on the court and getting their defensive rotations straight.
Are the Hawks tough enough?
There are few true believers when it comes to the Hawks, even in Atlanta, and the skeptics got plenty of ammunition during Wednesday's Game 2 loss in Chicago. Outrebounded by 19 and knocked off their offensive game by the Bulls' physical defense, the Hawks shot 33.8 percent and looked like the team that was embarrassed in the second round the last two years. But maybe this year is different. After all, Atlanta already surprised most experts by beating Orlando in the first round and taking Game 1 in Chicago. Resilience is a new trait for the Hawks, and they get another chance to prove it tonight.