Home > Uncategorized > The Internet Presents the 938th Preview of the NBA Finals

The Internet Presents the 938th Preview of the NBA Finals

I was inside Amway Arena on Saturday night to watch the Orlando Magic clinch their berth into the NBA Finals. As the celebration was going strong, I got a text message from a friend saying that this could be a very exciting series for me:

My current hometown team (Magic) versus the team of my childhood (Lakers).

It’s not a difficult decision for me. Personally, I am sitting in enemy territory as of today. The Lakers ARE my team. Nothing else matters.

And as we prepare for the series to begin tonight and as I look at the matchups, I say this with confidence: The Orlando Magic will win the NBA Finals in seven games.

The Lakers definitely have a few advantages: The home court, the finals experience, the best player on the court, etc. Kobe Bryant will be determined to win this series. Don’t listen to all this junk he is spewing about how winning a championship without Shaquille O’Neal won’t mean that much more to him.

Right. The most competitive player in the NBA today doesn’t care if he wins a championship on what is clearly his team? Shaq told a better lie when he said that he is “rooting” for Kobe Bryant to win this series.

Based on what both teams present, the Lakers must have been silently rooting for the Cavaliers to pull off the comeback against Orlando.

Fact is that the Cavs would have been much better matchup for the Lakers if they have any interest in winning the championship. But instead, it’s the Magic in their way and that’s not good for the team that used to have Magic on its side.

Here are the reasons why the Magic will be celebrating in the Staples Center two weeks from now.

1. Bench depth

All season, people have marveled over the Lakers’ bench depth. Talented players such as Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum and Shannon Brown were going to be key to a future parade down Figueroa St.

But no one seems to mention the quality coming off the Magic’s bench. Courtney Lee looks nothing like a rookie. He is a good shooter and a decent defender.

Meanwhile, Mickael Pietrus has been incredible from long range in these playoffs and is probably the team’s best mid-size defender. Kobe Bryant will see a lot of him in the finals.

LeBron? Check. Kobe? ...

LeBron? Check. Kobe? ...

J.J. Redick can have his moments, much like any other streaky shooter. Anthony Johnson is a point guard you can live with if you are a coach. And Marcin Gortat has been played very well on the interior lately.

Add to this the prospect of Jameer Nelson coming back to maybe play 10 to 15 minutes a game, adding a emotional spark most of all, and you have a bench that may not be better than LA’s, but it’s very comparative.

The Lakers’ bench gives them an advantage over most teams. One of them is not Orlando.

2. What to do about Superman?

The task of going man-to-man with Dwight Howard will fall on Andrew Bynum.

I’ve heard that all week long, and just the thought of that matchup makes me feel like I am watching a blind dog slowly walk toward a brick wall. You know something bad is going to happen; it’s just a matter of time until you hear that thud.

Yes, the Lakers have more inside than the 76ers, Celtics (when healthy) and the Cavs, but what in these playoffs makes anyone believe that Andrew Bynum can even come near Dwight Howard without picking up two fouls?

Bynum just doesn’t look like the player that he resembled before blowing up his knee last season. Yes, he is better than Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but here’s a test:

If you can take your right foot, pick it up and move it six inches to the right, you’ve done it! You already have more mobility than “Z”. Congradulations.

That man’s first step resembles that of a tortoise.

Pau Gasol isn’t tough enough (still) to deal with Howard. Lamar Odom has good height, but he’s not really a tough guy inside either.

Maybe a factor in this series will be Didier Ilunga — formerly D.J. — Mbenga. Start out with Bynum on Howard and don’t let him get anything easy. Bynum will pick up three fouls in the first half, so put Mbenga on him. He’s got six fouls to spend. Use them! Josh Powell, go sacrifice yourself for the team, too.

Foul him! Foul him!!

Foul him! Foul him!!

It will be death by 1,000 free throws, but wouldn’t that be the better way to approach Dwight than just letting him throw down 15 dunks a night?

If the Lakers don’t pull on Superman’s cape, they will have no chance to stop him.

3. Outside shooting

Experts have said that the Lakers have the length to stop the Magic’s outside shooters, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.

Well, the Lakers have more length than the Cavs, who started two guards shorter than 6-foot-4, but it’s not a series-changing difference.

Trevor Ariza is a great defender, but he’s still two inches shorter than Lewis or the Turkish Jordan. Lamar Odom has the height, but he’s not always the most active defender when it comes to contesting the 3.

Also, the Lakers allow 3-pointers to be taken against them 24 percent of the time, one of the highest rates in the NBA. They have never been that good at rotation defense and when you add other sharpshooters such as Pietrus, Redick, Lee and Rafer Alston into the mix, that’s just too many weapons for the Lakers’ defense to cover.

4. Battle-tested

Why can’t the Magic win this series in LA? They have already beaten the Lakers in their own house this season. They have already won a Game 7 in Boston and a Game 1 in Cleveland. They can win anywhere.

Yesterday, I heard Rafer Alston say that they are going to try to stop Kobe Bryant from going for 40 points every night.

Why?

You saw how that strategy worked against LeBron. You don’t always have to cut off the head of the snake to kill it.

The Lakers have much better secondary offensive players than Cleveland, but the Magic have to force them to win this series for Los Angeles. Let Kobe get what he can, within limits. Yet if Derek Fisher is hitting 3s, then the Magic will just have to tip their hat to him the end of the series.

Or just walk off the floor without shaking any hands or talking to any media.

Either way, if the Magic do their best to guard the “other” Lakers, and they still hit their shots, there isn’t much Orlando will regret at the end of this series.

But with the defensive player of the year inside and some very good perimeter defenders — Lewis and Pietrus — the Magic have the personnel to play their game on defense. They have the personnel to overwhelm on offense.

They have the personnel to win a championship.

This could be the face of Los Angeles in two weeks.

This could be the face of Los Angeles in two weeks.

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