ESPN.com asked its panel of experts who they thought would be the biggest threat to unseating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference. While most went with the San Antonio Spurs, our own Marc Stein had the guts to stray from the pack.
Here's what Mr. Stein had to say:
I'm still gullible enough to say the Dallas Mavericks, mainly because I can't shake the suspicion that the Mavs will trade for, say, Stephen Jackson to replace Caron Butler if Roddy Beaubois can't come back with the big second-half comeback they're praying for. The reality that the survey commission doesn't want to hear, though, is that I could just as easily make a passionate case for the Spurs, who don't quite have Dallas' size with Tyson Chandler as an All-Star goalie but should have a fresh, spry Tim Duncan for the postseason. And Kobe Bryant would be the first to tell you, as he found out last week, that the Spurs can still smother elite scorers quite nicely no matter what you've heard about their supposed defensive decline.
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