At the time of this writing, your Dallas Mavericks are sitting pretty as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, ahead of the dreaded Nuggets, the surprising Suns, the scrappy Rockets and the elderly Spurs. But one team stands between the Mavs and conference superiority, and it's a familiar one: the Los Angeles Lakers. Just when it looked like Kobe Bryant might demand a trade in the summer of 2007, the Lakers pulled off the unthinkable, landing Pau Gasol in a 2008 trade that set them up for two straight NBA Finals appearances. Counting the three-peat Shaquille O’Neal era of the early aughts, the Lakers have appeared in six of the last 11 NBA Finals. Consider the fact that the boring old San Antonio Spurs have appeared in every Lakerless Finals this decade save for our own 2006 debacle, and the NBA starts to look pretty boring and predictable--just another reason to cheer for your newly energized Dallas Mavericks as they take on the Lakers in a rematch of their 131-96 loss at the Staples Center on January 3. Let's just hope the Mavs shoot better than 37.8 percent this time around. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center; tickets are $10 and up. Visit ticketmaster.com.
Wed., Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m., 2010