LOS ANGELES – Andrew Bynum will have to earn his buckets this series.
The Mavs’ big men made that painfully obvious in Game 1. There were no easy post-ups for Bynum, who dominated Dallas during the regular season but was a nonfactor in the opener of the West semifinals.
“I felt I wasn’t aggressive at all, getting in low-post position, nothing,” said Bynum, who finished with only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. “I kept letting them hit me first.”
Chandler set the tone soon after tip-off. Bynum got a couple touches on the block in the first few minutes, but Chandler didn’t budge, forcing Bynum to miss a couple of tightly contested shots that weren’t as close to the bucket as he preferred.
“Good defense!” a scout sitting next to me said after each possession.
Bynum scored on a post-up only once the whole game. It was a stark contrast to the regular season, when Bynum feasted in the paint against the Mavs. He averaged 16.7 points on 70 percent shooting in three games against Dallas, ranking him right after Kobe Bryant among the Mavs’ defensive priorities this series.
“Our whole thing is just not letting him get deep,” Haywood said. “When he gets in deep, he’s hard to stop. … When you’re on the weak side, you can’t relax with him. You have to stay into his body and make him work for every inch he gets on that court.”
Added Chandler: “We forced him into some tough shots, kept him out of his sweet spots. We’ve got to continue to do the same thing the rest of the series.”