Why the Lakers will Win

Bill Bridges —  May 31, 2009

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
The focus of the pre-series review has emphasized that the Magic pose match-up problems for the Lakers. Perhaps. However, I contend that the matchup problems that the Lakers pose for the Magic dwarf the former. Gasol against Lewis, Odom against Lewis, Tukoglu, or Pietrus. Kobe against Lee. I like these match ups.

The mis-match advantage, the Lakers’ superior training partners, and the proven ability of Jackson and staff to make the correct adjustments leads me to the conclusion that the championship is for the Lakers’ to lose.

The Chuckster is fixated on the starting Orlando forwards. “Whose going to guard Lewis and Turkoglu?”, he asks rhetorically. Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza, Chuck, that’s who. Chuckster is obsessed by the first 5 minutes of each half when Ariza and Gasol start at the forward spot.

So how will the Magic take advantage of this mis-match? Ariza on Turkoglu? No mis-match there. Then how will Lewis punish Gasol? Not by posting him up obviously. By shooting perimeter shots? As Memo knows, Lewis will be surprised at how good Gasol is at defending the perimeter jumpshot. He will find that shooting jumpers over the length of Pau’s outstretched fingers not quite as easy as shooting over Mo Williams or Delonte West. Lewis’ best chance is to take Gasol on the drive. Even here as well the advantage is not so clear cut. 

Unlike Turkoglu, Lewis is mainly comfortable going right. Against one-handed players, the Lakers’ SSZ is particularly good at throttling penetration. Also unlike Turkoglu, Lewis is not gifted with handle. Making Lewis a penetrator off the dribble creates steal opportunities for the Lakers. The other problem with the Magic trying to take advantage of this “mis-match” is that they will be taken out of their pattern. Once Odom substitutes for Bynum, the “mis-match” disappears for the Magic (although it remains for the Lakers). So if they are to attack the match up, it has to be done early in the 1st and 3rd quarters. The first quarter for the Magic is all about trying to estab lish Howard in the post and distributing shots to their perimeter players. Lewis is the least active in the 1st quarter and usually gets it going as the game progresses – a sort of anti-Josh Howard. Are they going to make Lewis their go-to-guy instead of Howard? If they do, thank you,  SVG. 

On the other side of the ball, Phil must see Gasol versus Lewis and be licking his pleasingly-smooth chops. Move Gasol around on the block, get him the ball, make strong cuts and what do you have? Single-covered, easy scores by Gasol. Double-covered, layups by cutters, open 3’s by Ariza/Fish/Kobe, and fouls on Howard defending the basket. This mis-match might become such a problem that I predict that SVG is the first to blink and play a Howard/Gortat front line to counter.

We know enough about these Lakers to be able to write down the ingredients that trouble them.

– Lightning fast, penetrating guards

– Bruising, athletic, tough front-line that crash the boards.

– Perimeter 3 point shooting

The Magic’s quickest guard Lue, gets no playing time. In Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Mbenga, and Powell, the Lakers’ bigs have the toughness advantage. Only the 3 point shooting is left. But is it really a weakness? Just because Jeff Van Gundy says that the Lakers are poor at 3 point defense doesn’t make it so. In fact, the Lakers were the third best team in the league in defensive 3 point FG% at 34.5%. The problem for the Lakers is that Orlando takes so many, 26 per game, the most in the league, and have myriad of ways getting open looks.

1. The Turkoglu/Howard high screen and roll creates strong-side dribble penetration and rotations. Lee/Pietrus waits on the strong side corner and Lewis on the weakside 3. 

2.  Deep post by Howard. If you double, he kicks out to the top or wing. Shoot the initial 3 or pass around the perimeter for a corner 3.

If you rush at the shooters, they take it to the defender’s feet and to the hole. Unlike Denver, who looked to dunk, the Magic players look to kick the ball back out to the top for the corner 3 or the hockey passes to the corner.

Of course the on occasion Turkoglu and Alston like to go one-on-one for a low percentage possession. Whilst to be incouraged, the defense cannot rely on these infrequent brain-farts.

As the other 90% of possessions are occupied running the two plays above, the Magic are very well practiced and execute extremely well. But an offense with limited options can be stopped. For the first time in the post season the Magic will encounter a team who can switch on the high screen and roll without creating mis-matches. Switch and show cuts off the driving lanes and bottles #2 from the beginning. 

This leaves #1. And frankly whilst in theory Bynum, with his length and strength should be able to bother Howard just as much as Perkins, he’s never displayed this in practice. Assuming Howard cannot be checked one-on-one, the Lakers present unorthodox help defense against the post with the help some times coming from the top, base line and weakside. The natural SSZ defense is most susceptible to the pass from the strong side low post to the weak side corner. Howard rarely makes this pass. Instead, his outlets are almost to the top and the wing not the corner. By the last 2 games, the Lakers were much better at recovering back to cover the corner 3. If can’t defend Howard on defense, you must be able to attack him on offense.

Of the final four teams, the Lakers are the only ones with the bigs that will attack Howard. The truth is that Howard simply is not a great own-man low post defender, kind of like Ben Wallace. He can be backed under the hoop in early transition and sealed. If Bynum plays with aggression and his team mates look for him, Howard just might have to work on man defense for the first time this playoffs. 

The Magic is comprised of weak individual defenders (with the possible exception of Pietrus and of course, Howard) who execute a scheme. The crux of the scheme is not doubling and staying with perimeter shooters. Against the Cavs, with no post presence, this scheme is perfect. Against the Lakers who can post up Gasol and Odom against Lewis, this scheme breaks down. Once the Magic double down low, their sticky perimeter defense is gone. Wide open shots and driving lanes should present themselves. If Howard gets in foul trouble every single game when the lanes are closed and he need not play any man defense, the Lakers could cause serious foul issues for the Magic.

The road to the finals also favors the Lakers. Apollo Creed identified hand and foot quickness as Rocky’s weakness. So he had him chasing chickens. You have a problem guarding quick point guards and perimeter shooters; practice against Houston for 7 games. Tough athletic post players have pushed you around in the past? Practice against Denver for 6 games. Ali prepared for Foreman by sparring against Ernie Shavers, not a light weight. 

In contrast, non of the teams the Magic has played thus far has prepared them for the challenges that the Lakers bring. They had so many physical mis-matches against the Cavs that it was like seeing Ali beat up on the light-heavyweight champion, Bob Foster. But this practice was no preparation against Ken Norton who broke Ali’s jaw.

Assuming that the Lakers have cured themselves of the Malaise of the early rounds and brings effort each night, 4 games or 5 is a possibility.

—Bill Bridges
 

 

Bill Bridges

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136 responses to Why the Lakers will Win

  1. I really want to see DJ Mbenga on Dwight Howard. Just something about that matchup …

  2. The part that worry me the most is Bynum, just wish he is alive for once, atleast when he is needed.

  3. Maybe a little too optimistic, but I generally agree. I think Phil sticks with the big line up and makes Lewis guard either Bynum or Gasol in the post. SVG might put Lewis on Bynum but that almost as much of a mismatch and will still require a double team. But Bynum is not as good of a passer though he is capable.

    The biggest mismatch that the Magic had during the two regular seasons games was Nelson. Alston is good, and he has been playing good ball for the Magic but he is not Nelson. He will have to have a huge series for the Magic to be able to win (20 pts a game or more).

    I say the Lakers in 6 games.

  4. well well well our lakers are here getting ready to kick orlando magic…as long as they will be able to cover the 3’s of orlando then defending howard will be so easy. hopefully Bynum will unleash the beast wihin him so he can defend the basket….kobe being the QB early in the game will be a great game plan and of course the receiver shoudl be able to shoot the basket….defend the 3’s and howard will surely lead kobe and lakers for the championship…. go go go go go go LAKERS!!!!

  5. The lament of us fans is how the individual matchups work out. Bill Bridges informed us that the Magic are essentially a good team defense with only two good individual defenders. The same is true of us. It is how our team plays defense as a group that will spell success or failure.

    As for worrying about Bynum…remember that he became a real presence in the middle during the last game. We overlook this because he didn’t score or rebound a lot, but he really did change the Denver offense. It is not a stretch to say that he only needs to repeat this, not to try to block a bunch of shots. Since he has just done this and it was a success – I am assuming the coaching staff has pointed this out, even if the media and fans have ignored it – I expect he can build on this and at least hold his own against Howard on the low block. Remember, we don’t need to shut Howard down; just make him a bit less efficient.

  6. Let’s get ready to …

    RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMBLE !!!

  7. That’s a very good analysis, but I am worried that Gasol won’t get enough touches in the post with the way the Lakers forget about him. I remember in the ’06 playoffs, that posting Odom and Kwame on Marion and Diaw was a big part of the gameplan. With such a big break before the finals, I’m sure Phil is emphasizing Odom and Gasol in the post.

    And any thoughts on Nelson possibly coming back?

    I know coming off a long layoff he can’t possibly be that effective, but it still worries me and he could possibly swing one game in favor of the Magic…if he does return.

  8. I think the way the Magic will guard Gasol+Bynum is by putting Howard on Bynum, Lewis on Gasol, but Howard will stay in the paint and not chase Bynum. That will take away easy putbacks, layups, and dunks for Gasol and Bynum. They will concede the mid-range jumper over Lewis to Gasol and 10-12 footers to Bynum, and just live with the consequences.

  9. lakers in 6. bring it on orlando.

  10. I’m just waiting for that telling moment of Kobe hoisting the championship trophy.

    I want to see what kind of emotions he lets out when he does that. That will be THE moment I will cherish.

  11. So much depends on which version of our supporting cast shows up. Lamar was supposed to be a mismatch in the Denver series, but (admittedly, his back is awful) he didn’t show up for the first few games. Our bench was touted as a mismatch but didn’t have it going for most of the series. So our team is very hard to predict.

    I agree Lewis’s handle is relatively weak, but he’s much quicker than Okur and capable of taking Gasol off the dribble. Someone will have to help. Bynum can’t leave Dwight at all costs. This could result in a breakdown in perimeter defense. That said, Lewis normally isn’t anywhere near aggressive enough. Against Detroit last year, he didn’t exploit Rasheed nearly as much as he could have. Let’s hope he defers again.

    Now the question is – do we want a ton of Odom (matching up better with Lewis) or more of a Gasol/Bynum lineup? The latter will take a lot of pressure off Gasol, who sometimes struggles offensively when he has to guard against much stronger big men. Most likely, it’ll be taken out of Phil’s hands, as I can’t see Drew staying out of foul trouble.

    Drew knows what he has to do. Stay low, channel his inner Rodman or Perkins, and try to make life hell for Dwight. Our defensive gameplan will hinge on whether or not he’s able to execute.

  12. I’ve been struck with how strong the Magic are mentally. They play with supreme confidence, and never seem to have mental breakdowns (recently). It’s why a lead against the Magic is so fragile, they always find a way to get back in a game.

  13. After reading this, i feel the Lakers can win in about 6, but why were they swept in the regular season?

  14. Why is everyone picking the Lakers? (I mean non-laker partisans)

    Orlando just torched the best team in the league. And if not for some pretty lame defense on a last second inbound play they would have swept the series.

    I think Orlando is just as deep as the Lakers and presents just as many match up problems. This series is dead even.

    The team that executes better/more consistently will win.

  15. #2
    In fairness to Drew, he had a at least two or three good games in the last series. It’s just either he’s in foul trouble or PJ has a very short leash on him. When he’s not scoring, he’s altering shots in the paint or intimidating drives to the hoop, things that don’t get seen on the stats. Indeed we’ll need him; I’m positive he will respond.

  16. The experts are just enamored with our front court, and then Kobe, and then PJax, in that order.

    Also, they’re not Laker fans, so they just don’t truly understand the bipolarity of this team ;)

    If I thought we ‘arrived’ as a team, I’d pick the Lakers in 5.

    But I think we’re very prone to lapses, and I’m not sure if we can hold home court in the first two games (which is fine, since I don’t think Orlando will win 3 straight in this matchup).

  17. some snippets picked around:

    ESPN “experts” predict LA in 6 or 7, w/ the exception of Abbott.

    PJ is 43-0 in series where his team takes game 1. (haven’t confirmed that though)

    ORL’s having Nelson re-examined for a possible appearance in the finals. (they sure know what and what not to fear against LA)

  18. Hi Laker fans.

    I’ve said these once here, but the Lakers are not as bad playing defense on the perimeter as you think.

    Utah , in the season came in shooting at 34.9 percent in the 3pt area, averaging at least 13.7shots per game.
    But they faced the Lakers in the first round and tried to provide the mismatch by shooting at least one more shot (14.6) outside, making at least 34.3 percent of those.

    Now, that may not prove to be that much difference (34.9 to 34.3), but considering that they had Korver, Brewer, Kirilenko, and Williams (good 3-pt shooters), and sometimes, Price, that was a a good defense being played there.

    Now into the second round: Houston, a 37.5% 3pt shooting team averaging 20.2 shots per game with excellent shooters around them (Barry, Battier, Lowry, Brooks, Alston [pre-Magic], Wafer, Head, and Artest).
    When they faced the Lakers, their stat: 29.9% on 22.2shots per game.
    Now, taking away their best 3pt performance (Game 6, 7-of-18) did they have an off-night on 6 games versus LA?
    They had a total of 47-of-157 shots made on the whole series against the Lakers.

    Next, their last victim: THE Denver Nuggets, into the season, they shot 37.1% in 18 shots per game, that was with Allen Iverson in 3 games.
    Take that away, they were 39.2% in 15.7 shots, a sizzling number.
    Melo, CB, JR Smith, and Kleiza were terrific the whole season.
    Versus the Mavericks, they were : 37.3% on 20.4 shots.
    Take away their “off-night” performance (8-of-28 in Game 2), they were a fantastic 40.4% on 4 Games against them.

    Then came LA, and many thought *again* that they would punish supposed-to-be LA’s weakness of defending perimeter shots.

    The result in 6 games: 31.3% on 22.3shots per game.

    Was it a coincidence that LA’s opponents were struggling when they faced them?
    That they have a bad 3-pt shooting series against them?

  19. Something outsiders will overlook,but Phil and staff won’t,Orlando DID NOT DOUBLE-TEAM Lebron on the perimeter. Sure,they packed the paint when he drove,but they let his defender guard him one-on-one outside.
    W/out the quick,open shots created by perimeter doubling the Cavs had to get the “supporting cast” open looks from LeBron’s drives. But Magic length-ironic huh?-created numerous turnovers and let them close out on shooters who were up against the shot clock.
    People will talk about how LeBron’s teammates didn’t step up,but that was also what the Magic wanted. Let LeBron get his and keep the rest from hurting you.
    LeBron had to spend a ton of energy and stay on the court almost entire Second Halves.
    Expect Phil to demand the team run the offense and not depend on Kobe.
    After all,LeBron was dropping 40+ a game and lost.”

    Great GREAT point.

    TAHT IS HWAT ORLANDO WANTS.

    I have leaguepass and watched them play the HEAT this year twice, they let Wadescore 50 one time and still won by 20(!!!!), and they let up 45 to him another time and still won the game, the one game they lost was when Wade only scored 25 and Beasley had one of his good pro games with around 20 points and that cook kid went on fire from 3

    and they had get this: MARK BLOUNT in the game shooting from outside and actually hitting a couple and had Dwight pulled out of the paint, Wade had like 12 dimes

    you cant win with Kobe dropping 40+, Lebron didnt learn that, 49 and a loss, 45 and a loss, 43 and a loss, get the drift?

    but 32 and a win

    The blueprint would be Kobe around 30ppg and really running the offense and getting others involved, dont fall for the bait

  20. If Nelson comes back I think it’ll hurt the Magic a lot. He hasn’t played in months. His conditioning must be horrible.
    This finals will be great, but I can’t wait for next year, when the Lakers meet the Celtics again. Now that will be even better, and you can bet that we will see the best of the Lakers in that series.

  21. PS: Kobe scored 43 in one of the games we lost to Orlando this year

    get my point?

    Kobe plays like he did the last two games aganst denver and our TEAM plays like that: we have a real chance at winning a championship!

  22. Wade shook the pistons hands when they beat him in 2005, game 7, eastern conference finals, on his own floor, a CRUSHING defeat

    Kobe shook KG Pierce and Ray and thems hands last year, and everyone knows how dissapointing that was

    Bird shook Magics hand, and magiic shook birds,w hen they lost IN THE FINALS to each other

    and Jordan shook THE PISTONS hands in 1990 after losing GAME 7, crushing lost, came up short in the east finals to the team that physically pounded him for the 2nd year in a row, and EVERYONE knows how competitive MJ was (he had a legit compettive disorder, a disability) but he still shook their hands, and he HATED them and was CRUSHED emotionally and physically and mentally

    HE STILL MANNED UP, like he was raised to do, thats PART OF WHAT MAKES a GREAT PLAYER, just ask Magic or Wade or Bird or MJ or Kobe what they think of what Lebron just did last night in defeat.

    Lebron isnt a better player or more competitive than any of those 5 guys. He isnt above any one of those great ones, so why is he given a pass? Isiah wasnt given a pass, and he’s a hall of famer and top-3 PG of alltime, and a champion and finals mvp

    so whats up Lebron?

  23. I think its extremely intriguing

    Pau will get killed by Howard like Varejao did i think, just muscled, but Pau will make Howard have to guard him on the other end and pau MIGHT be able to get him in foul trouble (along with kobe slashing)

    But it could be wierd because the Lakers 2nd best player might end up better off on the bench and their best lineup could be with Bynum at 5 to match up with howard and Odom at 4 to match up with rashard

    but at the other end of it if Phil figures out a way to get Pau guarded by Rashard he could get the better of that matchup by dominjating him inside in the post… with bynum tying up dwight (if he’s ready to contribute yet)

    so that might mean SVG has to adjust and go to Battie at the 4 next to howard to guard pau, and then that means rashard or hedo will be on the bench too much, or theyll be at SF and SG with either of the kobe-defenders having to be on the bench (pietrus and lee), or leave one of them out there and that means they have no PG with Rafre on the bench and hedo having to play PG

    just a weird weird weird matchup and it will be interesting to see who wins the serries, i really do think whatever team dictates their style/matchup and makes the other team have to adjust will win the series (and do it in 5 or 6 games)

  24. 18, no, no, no, no, no. We cannot match the Magic’s strategy; we have to force them to match-up against us. We keep thinking of Pau as a detriment defending Lewis; the same is true the other way around. We have to punish the Magic for playing Lewis instead of punishing ourselves and trying to change how we play. The moment we try to change what we do best just to try and neutralize their advantage is the moment we give up our own advantage. Keep Pau in there, keep Bynum starting with him, pound the ball inside and punish the Magic for trying to FIBA-ball their way to the championship.

  25. 4 or 5 seems extremely optimistic to me. Yes, the Lakers ‘practised’ against a Rockets team with quick PGs and lots of 3-point shooters – and that team took them to 7 games despite Yao missing the last 3. Orlando has even more shooters and the most dominant big man in the playoffs.

    I expect this series to go 6 or 7. There will probably be at least 1 game where the Lakers are too slow to rotate out of their traps and get absolutely torched from beyond the arc. However, I like the idea of Lewis trying to guard Pau if the guards are patient and feed him the ball early and often.

  26. 20 – Well said. The strength of Phil Jackson’s moves has always been that he forces the opposing coach to match up with him, never the other way around (Phil against Don Nelson’s teams come to mind). The one time I can remember Phil sort of allowing an opposing coach to dictate matchups came in this year’s semifinals, when Phil decided to play Sasha at the 3, Brown at the 2, and Farmar at the 1 to match up with Wafer/Lowry/Brooks. In that 3-guard matchup in that particular game, they annihilated us.

    Phil is a genius at matchups. He’ll make SVG react to him. That said, SVG is a top-level coach too (IMO, has been for 4 years) and will definitely throw some wrinkles at us.

  27. if lakers will play like REAL LAKERS, possibility of winning is really great.

  28. A little off-topic (as the ECF is sooooo yesterday and therefore should have been on yesterday’s post), but thank God for Charley Rosen (On Lebron):

    “Finally, his incredible lack of grace after the loss signifies an ego of such humongous proportions as to enable him to deny any personal responsibility for the Cavs’ ultimate failure.”

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/9631768/How-Cavs-went-from-unbeatable-to-beaten

    Great player that Lebron, but classy? Not so.

  29. PeanutButterSpread May 31, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Harold –

    I too, want, so badly, for Kobe to hoist up that fourth championship trophy.

    I thought I would see that moment last year.

    Hopefully we’ll see it this year.

    The rest of the Lakers not named kobe will need to rise to the occasion.

    This is it. This is the moment they were waiting for. They’ve come too far now to back down and lose.

    Redemption. Peace.

    It’s all within the reach of 4 games.

  30. I think the East worked out in you guy’s favor. The Lakers will control this series much easier than the previous two. I agree with Kurt that they have been well prepared by the previous two series.

    Howard will oviously cause some problems, but Bynum needs to play strong against him. Howard is really not a polished offensive player and relies on athleticism and strength to get his offense. Bynum has the size to cause problems for Howard. The question is will he use it, and will the officials allow him to.

    I have watched Rafer more than most because he was our starting point guard for nearly 4 seasons. He is a pretty good leader and defender but that is where it ends. He is more capable than nearly any player in the league of going 0 for 10 with all 10 shots coming behind the 3. He is a terrible finisher in the lane and misses clutch freethrows like Nick Anderson.

    I think that Pau and Lamar will do a fine job on Lewis if they don’t allow him to get hot behind the arc. Hedo will be a pain, but Ariza should be able to stay on top of him. I just think that you have way more than this team can handle.

    Good luck, and bring that trophy back to the west.

  31. This is from Adande’s ESPN article on Thursday:

    “Bryant remembers what it was like when the Lakers were ruthless on the road. One of the coldest, greediest shots I’ve ever seen was his 3-pointer that did in the Spurs in Game 2 of the 2001 Western Conference finals, after the Lakers had already stunned them with a victory in San Antonio in Game 1. Afterward, I told Bryant that he’d cut an artery on the Spurs.

    “Let ‘em bleed,” he sneered, with a look just as dismissive as the one he wore after he made the go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 3 in Denver, the turning point of this series.”

    I love this anecdote (and apologize if this has been talked about already). I wish Kobe would represent himself like this more off the court. People often criticize Kobe for presenting a fabricated image, and to a certain extent I think those criticisms are valid.
    We all know Kobe is not the humble, slightly vacant bore that we see in post-game interviews. He should drop the ‘aww shucks’ pretense and embrace the ruthless personality that makes him a great player. I would like to see Kobe become the anti-hero, the perfect foil to what they are making LeBron out to be.

  32. When speaking about stocks, brokers always say something akin to, “Past performance is no guarantee of future success.” The same rule of thumb should be applied when looking back on the Magic’s edge as indicated by its 2-0 record against the Lakers this season.

    We all know the Lakers can be up and down from night to night, but anyone who’s losing sleep over their imperfect record vs. Orlando this season really should relax. There’s no guarantee that the Lakers will win this series, but if they do lose it won’t be for the same reasons it dropped its prior games against Orlando. The circumstances are totally, totally different.

    Loss No. 1 occurred the night after the Lakers played awfully in Miami and still were one Kobe shot away from going into overtime. Back-to-backs are tough. There will be none in the Finals.

    Against Orlando on the road, Bynum picked up two fouls in the game’s first 65 seconds and was a non-factor with three points in less than 12 minutes. (I’ll concede that such a thing could occur again, but read a bit further before we write off Drew vs. Howard this series).

    Despite only three points from Drew, two points from Luke (who started then) and a whopping 19 points combined from the four reserves who played, the Lakers and Magic were tied with 1:23 to play, and were only down a point with 36 seconds to go. Sasha missed a three-point that would have put L.A. ahead, and that was that.

    Does anyone expect to see a game in which two starters and four reserves come up with just 25 points? If so, the Lakers deserve to lose this series.

    Jameer Nelson dropped 27 on L.A. that night. He won’t be playing this go-round, unless the reports of his return prove correct, at which point he’ll be out-of-game shape with poor timing.

    Also worth noting: Jordan Farmar was out with his knee injury at that time and did not play, and the Lakers hadn’t yet traded for Shannon Brown.

    Does anyone see the same situations at play this time? Me neither.

    As for Loss No. 2, it also came on the heels of a tough loss: the Roger Mason game in which he was “fouled” by Fish occurred two nights prior to the Magic game.

    Jameer Nelson was again the driving force, scoring 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a three that put Orlando up with 35 seconds to go. After fouling intentionally at the end, the Lakers wound up losing by just six.

    Again, no Farmar. No Brown. And a strong game from Nelson. Yes, Alston is a good fill-in, but he’s no All-Star.

    And that night, Bynum was on the floor for 33 minutes and scored 14. Howard abused him on the boards (20 to 3), but something seemed to inspire Drew from that evening. He played solid in the win vs. Cleveland the next time he took the floor (14 and 6, with two blocks), then dropped 42 on the Clippers the game after that.

    And for those who say Houston’s guards gave L.A. problems, I say this: the Lakers beat themselves in those losses. When they showed up, the Rockets quick guards were not a factor at all. I have to believe the Lakers will show up in these games with so much on the line.

    Bottom line, what happened before doesn’t really matter now. The only memory the Lakers should be recalling is how they felt in Boston a year ago. If overcoming that loss serves as any kind of motivation, this series should go in the Lakers favor.

  33. In Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Mbenga, and Powell, the Lakers’ bigs have the toughness advantage.”

    Mbenga, and Powell????? With a combined 72 minutes so far in the playoffs? You’re kidding, right?

    Gasol tough (compared to Howard)? Now I know you’re joking….

  34. Birdman,
    My comment should be about #4 and is still in moderation also. I guess Kurt went to bed.

    Sorry, some days are like that.

  35. VoR wrote on May 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Why is everyone picking the Lakers? (I mean non-laker partisans)

    Orlando just torched the best team in the league. And if not for some pretty lame defense on a last second inbound play they would have swept the series.

    I think Orlando is just as deep as the Lakers and presents just as many match up problems. This series is dead even.

    The team that executes better/more consistently will win.”

    thats how i feel too

    the stars will shine, both teams are stacked, they are the two best road teams in the NBA, both led by all-nba first teamer and mvp candidate, both have great supporting casts after said superstar (Magic with multiple allstars and even more capable offensive weapons, lakers with all-nba 3rd team second star player and then alot of talent after that and thrive in their system of triangle-ball)

    and both teams believe tehy should win

    its gonna be an unbelievable series

  36. 19 –

    Also, the ’86 Celtics and ’89 Pistons won the Finals after losing there the prior year.

    dtrain’s argument derailed there.

  37. dtrain wrote on May 31, 2009 at 10:59 am

    no team in nba history has ever gone from losing in the nba finals to winning it all the following year

    ummmm.. 1984-85 LA Lakers?

    ummm 88-89 Detroit pistons?

  38. Let me ask you guys a question. This is Kobe’s 6th Championship appearance, how would the world look at him? Would we even speak about Lebron, how would the media view him as he would be on the footsteps of the new standard of MJ’s six rings?

  39. Excuse me I meant to add if he had won the championships against the Pistons and C’s

  40. If we had won against the Pistons, we might have kept Shaq, Karl Malone would have added a ring to his long career, and Kobe might still be wearing 8 instead of 24, and we wouldn’t have seen 81.

    Had we won against the Celtics, PJ and Gasol would have gotten their share of the credits (as they stand to do now) and the Gasol trade would be the heist of all heists, dwarfing that of Boston getting KG and Allen…

    No way Kobe approaches MJ in the eyes of the media.

  41. Bird… Great stuff.

  42. I like everybody’s optimism, why not? The post was by you Bill Bridges, was it not, kinda sounds like you. One mistake though, Kobe will not hoist up the 2009 NBA Championship trophy alone, right? He will also be hoisting up the Finals MVP trophy in the other hand.

  43. As a Laker fan, I’m still scarred from last years finals in which all I can remember was a sh*t storm of 3’s from Eddie House, Paul Pierce & Ray Allen. 3 point shooting is a scary memory for Laker fans. If Lakers bring half as much heart as the Bulls brought to the C’s, Lakers win in 5. If Lakers come out flat, Magic in 5. Those three in a row in Orlando are the x-factor. It’s asking a lot to win both games at home, so if Lakers split 1-1, they have to win 2/3 in Orlando to come back ahead, this doesn’t feel good at all..

  44. Considering that we have home court and that the format of the Finals is 2-3-2, there is one stat that has yet to be mentioned that is really important, imo: The Lakers, since acquiring Pau Gasol, have yet to lose 3 consecutive games. This makes the first two games so important to me. If we can win the first two games, the Magic will have to pull a feat against us that hasn’t happened in over a season and a half just to have a series lead coming back to LA. Then, they’d have to either win four in a row to close the series in six or win a game 7 on the road. Tough task either way.

    Or even if Orlando wins one of the first two games, they’ll still need to pull the feat of beating us three consecutive times in order to avoid going back to LA. Anyways, I just think that our ability to not endure losing streaks will be a real advantage in this series considering the format and the fact that we’re a pretty good road team.

  45. 31. BC, don’t think the humble Kobe and the enigmatic anti-hero Kobe are mutually exclusive. I think both are equally genuine.

  46. As long as we can make Howard work on defense, we should be fine. He always walks a thin line between fouling and good defense, and if Kobe can drive into him with prudence, we can take Howard out.

    That has the added benefit of enticing a T from Howard, and if we are aggressive enough, that suspension will happen during their home stretch.

    Yeah, it’s cheap to rely on that, but if that’s the fruit of good honest labor, I’ll take it.

  47. just read from ESPN that Ben Wallace is pondering retirement.

    I don’t like the guy just because he was on that Pistons team, but kinda interesting that he is willing to put 14 mil on the table and retire, considering:
    1. he wasn’t paid that much throughout his career, and is now cashing in
    2. LeBron is a great teammate, and the team he is in is a legit contender (then again, big ben already has a ring).

    If I were in his shoes, I’d consider retirement only if:
    1. I feel bad when getting paid more than what I’m worth.
    2. I just don’t think I can take the NBA season anymore, period.
    3. Another year with LeBron ain’t worth it ;)

    Come to think of it, the Lakers have it easy. Kobe gets the blame, but honor is shared. Cavs? LeBron hoards all the honors, and when blame season comes, teammates get the blame…

  48. i agree with harold

    i am waiting for that moment when our guys get a championship

    I want to see their faces and their reactions more than anything else.

    I will tivo it.

  49. Be very careful about using MJ’s six championship rings as any kind of measuring stick.
    * It is unarguable that Bill Russell has 11 rings.
    *It is unarguable that Robert Hory has 7 rings.
    Right there that is a wide swing in players having more than six rings.

    Perhaps it might behoove us to stop trying to use shorthand in trying to describe great players.

  50. Heard the news yet?

    Chris Brown, er, Shannon, faces civil suit for a sex-related incident that happened in Denver.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4219580

  51. anyone finally see lebron’s comments, especially the last paragraph of the article?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4219933

  52. 49. jwl. Good find.

    “It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” he said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”

    As much as I respect(ed) LeBron, that’s not what a “competitor” is, that’s what a “sore loser” is. When the game is over, respect your fellow athlete.

  53. @46/Harold: Same thing could happen for Kobe who also has 5 T’s . I don’t think Howard deserved 2 or 3 of those T’s anyway. So I don’t believe he’d get anymore T’s. He ain’t a Sheed. He’s a cool dude, and he’s always smiling.

    IMHO, I think Lakers will win in game 6 like the way Boston did last year. But I’d like them to sweep , early break for all of us.

  54. suraj, that’s exactly why Howard’s more in danger.

    Kobe’s T’s are rather stupid ones, where he argues with the official and can easily be prevented.

    Howard’s T’s are mostly, if I recall correctly, from elbows and such that he throws at the heat of the moment, stuff that won’t suddenly disappear just because he’s aware of it. If we bang with him down low, his chances of getting that T increases since he’ll get called for lotsa fouls.

    If we establish our bigs early and attack the paint aggressively, we can and should take Howard out of the equation.

  55. I might be evil saying this but if I think we should put DJ and let him rumble with Howard, like put a little hidden punch in the back while everyone move around Howard, kind of like what happen to kid getting beat up in a corner.

    P.S. this is sarcasm.

  56. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 1:50 am

    Birdman –

    I think the lady who filed the civil suit probably confused the two. She meant to sue CB, not SB. Silly lady. But in all seriousness, it’s terrible timing for Shannon, I hope he doesn’t let this distract his play or his family. He’s a young guy and you hate to see these things happen, but it does. What is up with Denver women anyways?! Kidding, but if Shannon says he’s innocent and the prosecutors have nothing against him, then there’s no case.

    55. Anonymous –

    do you mean let DJ judo chop him with his mad black belt skills? sounds like a plan. LOL

  57. DJ will kick dwights butt. DJ is 7-foot, 255 lbs compared to Dwight’s 6-11, 265 lbs, but DJ is black belt in 3 different types of martial arts!

    I was secretly worrying for chris mihm when he got in a shoving with DJ right before practice –DJ would kill him.

    Anyways, real question here.
    Why do people keep talking about how big Dwight is? He’s only 6’11 and 265 lbs, while big for us, not that big in NBA.

    Ron Artest is 6-7, 260 lbs, Tim Duncan is 6-11 and 260 lbs. Andrew Bynum is 7-1 285 lbs. Technically speaking, Bynum is 2 inches and 20 lbs over Howard. Shouldn’t he be bigger?

    Lastly, Kevin Garnett is only 220 lbs and 6-11, really skinny for someone his height. How come he doesn’t have trouble containing big centers that are 250 lbs and above? Pau Gasol is 1 inch taller and 30 lbs over KG, how come people keep saying KG out-muscled Gasol? Is Gasol all fat? I don’t think so, even though KG definitely have a lower body fat.

  58. Anyone notice Lebron was wearing a NY Yankees cap when he was talking to the media about the loss to Orlando?
    That’s just cruel man :-p

  59. I love reading guys like Birdman and Great Wall posting their opinions here as the Finals approach.

    It’s like in a television series finale when all your favourite guest stars from earlier seasons pop up to say farewell.

  60. dtrain –

    Don’t forget the 72 Lakers beat the Knicks 4-1, then the 73 Knicks beat the Lakers 4-1.

    Teams losing the Finals and then winning it the next year has happened quite a few times in the NBA.

  61. Question for the experts on defense:

    Howard does very poorly under international rules, where zone defenses can take away easy entry passes and load up on him once he catches it. Any chance of tweaking the SSZ a bit to work similarly?

  62. The Dude Abides June 1, 2009 at 3:26 am

    50. From that article, it looks to me like another false charge a la Kobe in Colorado in 2003 and the Duke lacrosse team in 2006. It says that the Denver police investigated and didn’t even charge him, Charlotte security conducted an investigation and found there to be no case, and Shannon himself hired a P.I. Doubt anything comes of it.

  63. This is probably the funniest break-down I’ve read. As Magic fans we’ve seen this all year long and how the regular season match-ups meant nothing and how Lebron/Kobe is the ultimate X factor. I really just can’t wait till this series starts!

    LA fans, get strapped in. The Magic may not win the title but I’ll tell you right now the Lakers have NO SHOT of winning this in four or five games. This will be an extended series!

    Good luck!

  64. Rob, easy there. Break-down or not, we as fans don’t really predict a sweep.

    A prediction of a sweep is laying it on thick, too much even for homers. This isn’t the Nets of 2002 or some team that was truly overmatched and made a joke of a finals match. It will probably be a six game series(maybe seven), but not a sweep.

    Orlando has actual advantages. Advantages that will allow them to win games in this series.

    The Lakers and knowledgable fans understand this and are respectful of that fact, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers are there to lose.

    Just the expression from the Western Conference Finals presentation ceremony was enough to tell you that their work isn’t done yet. For all the matchups and Xs and Os there will be, there is NO ONE on the Magic that has that look that Kobe gets when he is just in the zone and nobody will stop him from winning.

    I would be extremely shocked(but happy) if the Lakers made quick work of the Magic.

    I can imagine at least a scenario of the Lakers losing the first and third road game of the finals and winning the sixth game at home.

    If you know a sweep in the Lakers favor, then please tell me so I can go to Vegas and cash in!

    Bye.

  65. team work and defensive on other team wil make lakers had there forth championship team

  66. its not kobe wil do his job. maybe he teach or share his championship experience to his team mate such as kobe and bynum , kobe and gasul, maybe let other team guess wat phil had his game plan.

  67. 63 – Yeah, this preview was probably on the optimistic side, but purposefully so. It’s good to see some Lakers fans aren’t scarred from last year’s Finals. I agree that this will go 6 or 7.

    Kaifa – I haven’t seen Dwight in international play, but if you’re talking zones or sagging down to prevent post entry passes, that’s playing right into the Magic’s hands. The weakness of such a strategy is yielding perimeter shots, and they’re absolutely deadly from downtown. It’s why I hope to see less of the SST and hope Bynum can somehow limit Dwight’s effectiveness straight up.

  68. 63 – Yeah, this preview was probably on the optimistic side, but purposefully so. It’s good to see some Lakers fans aren’t scarred from last year’s Finals. I agree that this will go 6 or 7.

    Kaifa – I haven’t seen Dwight in international play, but if you’re talking zones or sagging down to prevent post entry passes, that’s playing right into the Magic’s hands. The weakness of such a strategy is yielding perimeter shots, and they’re absolutely deadly from downtown. It’s why I hope to see less of the SST and hope Bynum can somehow limit Dwight’s effectiveness straight up.

    –Snoopy2006

  69. Please tell me how Lue is quicker/faster than Alston…or Lee for that matter.

  70. Its the Cleveland series all over again.

    Lets just start with this break down: Gasol didn’t cover Carmelo last series. That is to say that wasn’t his man. Sure Dwight Howard ended up covering Mo Williams a couple of possessions but he didn’t cover him. Gasol is going to be gassed trying to cover Rashard out on the perimeter.

    Lakers played heavyweights and the Magic didn’t in the lead up to this series? Does anyone else think thats the most ludicrous thing ever? The Magic beat the defending champs and the team with the best record in the NBA.

    Whats that Laker fans? Garnett was out? Yes we Magic fans know this. So was Jameer Nelson(you should know him from our two games in the regular season). In fact, so was Yao Ming(for the last two or three games) and T-Mac for the Rockets series(real heavyweight there…).

    And the Cavaliers don’t get us ready for the Lakers? You mean a team that is centered on a superstar with Jordan comparisons doesn’t get us ready for another one?

    And there is talk on here about how Dwight got his T’s…he got most of them for talking trash to the opposing team. Kind of like Kobe’s, very easy to correct.

    Again I say the same thing as in my last post, the Magic may not win the title. BUT it was no fluke that the Magic swept the regular season and it won’t be a fluke when the Magic take one of the first two games in LA. Its going to be a hell of a series, I can’t wait! Good luck!

  71. i say we put defensive player of the playoffs luke affleck walton on lewis

  72. This is going to be one great series. I can’t wait for Thursday. Bynum will be in the spotlight anytime he is on the floor with Dwight.

    http://therookiecontract.com/

  73. Great post, although I think it will probably go more like 6.

    I have tickets to the possible game 7, and while I don’t really think it will go that far, if it does I don’t know how on earth I’d be able to watch from inside Staples without having a heart attack.

  74. To win we will need to contain Lamar’s sweet tooth:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-random1-2009jun01,0,7864160.story

  75. It’s another NBA final and the first with Orlando, so welcome Magic fans. You’ll find that any post, regardless of your affiliation, is welcome on Kurt’s wonderful blog as long as the post is based on logic and backed up by proof. Note that the rules for posting is clearly marked at the top.

    #69. The Lakers are not the Cavs who have not one big man with a low post offensive game and boasts a 3 guard rotation with an average height just north of 6 foot.

    In Phil Jackson, you have a 9 time champion HOF’er who will come up with better adjustments than Mike Brown’s “the four of you guys clear out of Lebron’s way”.

    Specifically, as I posted, Gasol v Lewis is a 10 minute match-up at worst for the Lakers. You will see LO on Lewis (or even Kobe for stretches) if Gasol can’t contain him. Best case, Gasol will stay on Lewis because he is pounding Lewis on the low block – in which case, expect more than 10 minutes.

    Also, as all Laker fans know, Gasol is probably the best-conditioned big man in the league. Jeff VG commented that Gasol uniquely can play consecutive games with big minutes without getting tired. If you are waiting for Pau to get “gassed” you will wait for a while.

    My preview did not dwell on Kobe’s importance at all. He is not to the Lakers as Lebron is to the Cavs. The Lakers need Gasol, LO, and Ariza to maintain high performance.

    The Lakers can afford to have Kobe to take 13 shots and still win handily. For the Cavs, this scenario is an impossiblility.

  76. It was Mick that had Rocky chase a chicken in Rocky II in order to beat Apollo Creed. Of everything else, I hope you’re correct, but I wouldn’t underestimate the Magic. Lakers in 6 at best.

  77. Bill that’s interesting that you said all posts are welcome as long as they are based on fact. And then you tried calling mine out, which is fine because I called you out.

    I’ll say this, mine is much more based on fact…see game results for December 20th and January 16th.

    Gasol will be “gassed” as the series draws on, is what I was trying to imply. He can be well-conditioned all he wants but in a seven game series trying to cover a 6-10 forward who can shoot is a different animall all together that he hasn’t faced. That is facts. Again if you don’t believe me we have two games of reference to take a look at.

    You don’t have to like them and thats cool but they are the reality of the situation.

    Kobe and LeBron are not the same player true, but they have very similar roles in their teams. Again, that is a fact.

    Against the Magic, Kobe can’t take just 13 shots and win. You don’t understand how the Magic play D(as is obvious by you saying they have weak individual defenders). You think the Cavs had all those missed shots just by chance? Well you, as the Cavs fans learned, will see that these games aren’t flukes and the Magic are the best TEAM in the NBA. The only way the Magic lose is if Kobe goes off.

    Again, I refer you to the two previous games and check and see what worked and didn’t work for both squads.

    Good luck Bill and can’t wait to hear from ya when this series is over!

  78. 75. thanks Dave. Did Apollo train Rocky for the fight against Clubber Lang?

  79. If I may add something, the pick and roll, when executed very well and frequently, also gave the Lakers defense trouble.

  80. At various points, a lot of things gave the Lakers trouble. The point isn’t that the Lakers didn’t have some issues; the point is – as George Karl said – the Lakers seem to cemented up their cracks over the course of three tough series with vastly different personalities.

    For you Magic fans out there – over the last several years the Rockets have been a tougher matchup for the Lakers when Yao was missing. Yao seems to allow the Lakers to use their normal rotations and his absence seems to create more mismatches.

  81. And there’s plenty of things that give the Magic trouble. I agree that the Magic are going to have trouble stopping the Lakers “Big’s” because Gasol and Odom have been fantastic these playoffs.

    They could pose a real threat to Howard and cause him to get into foul trouble. Which as Magic fans we were used to with LBJ on the other team as Howard fouled out in three of those six games! Gortat is an effective back-up who could start on many teams. In fact, he could be better than Bynum is now(remember I said now!):)

  82. If the Lakers do win, as I feel believe they will, will that make Phil the individual with the most NBA rings in history with a total of 12 (10 as a coach & 2 as a player)?

  83. As the moderator of this site, I want to welcome Orlando fans here and will second what Bill said. Opposing viewpoints are certainly welcomed here as long as the tone is respectful and we are talking about the game.

    To put it simply, come in here and flame and your posts will be gone. Fast. Start an interesting debate and you are welcomed whenever you want. Anybody can post here as long as they follow the rules. (Well, Dane Cook might be the exception, but that’s a personal bias.)

  84. Thinking more about the match up, I think the key will be the Lakers transition defense. I think the lakers can do a good job of defending the Magics half court offense. The problem I see is mismatches created in transition leading to open 3s for the Magic. This happened during the two regular season games with breaking down the Lakers D with early offense leading to either a shot for himself or an open 3 for someone else. If Alston can do the same thing (or hedo/lewis) that will make things easier for the Magic. Alston however is not Nelson and I don’t see him giving the Lakers same problems as Nelson.

    Should be a close series and fun to watch.

  85. #64 Gabriel-It should be an interesting series. I don’t put too much credence into the home court advantage and while I realize the regular season match-ups mean nothing to this series in terms of wins and losses they are a great indicator on how teams were/are able to impose their wills on the opposing teams and to see what has worked and what hasn’t.

    Lakers could win in 6, it wouldn’t shock. I guess for me when I came on this site I expected to read something quite in-depth and knowledgeable(in terms of the Magic because I know they know their Lakers) because I’m dealing with the Lakers. Everyone knows who the Lakers are and so you expect the absolute best.

    Its just disappointing because it mirrors almost exactly what was said about the Magic-Cavs series and as Magic fans we try to get our team some respect. I’m sure you can understand that.

    And I feel I do it in a respectful way, if some take it the wrong way then I do apologize.

  86. Coffee is For Closers June 1, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Magic haven’t had to encounter a 4 like Gasol all playoffs. If the lakers learned their lesson from the denver series, they will force the action to pau on the low post. If magic allow lewis to gaurd him by himself, gasol will throw up some big numbers. If they come to help, gasol’s passing will find the right man. This is the lakers big advantage in this series, and they have to exploit it.

    In case anyone missed it, here’s the cavs and the nuggets going fishing…

    http://www.nba.com/video/channels/tnt_overtime/2009/05/30/nba_20090530_inside_1.nba/

  87. @ Rob: I’ve seen way, way worse posters here before in my long time lurking around here, and you’re as respectful as they come around IMO.

  88. I am not sure if anyone mention this but the two game that Lakers played against Orlando were both back-to-back game, and the first game wasn’t cake walk either for lakers since they were, i think, against Heat.

  89. I agree that in theory Gasol should put more pressure on Lewis than vice versa and that Odom is a perfect counter. My concerns are that (1) LA needs to pound the ball to Gasol to capitalize on the mismatch and they sometimes lose focus for extended periods in doing so; or just have execution breakdowns (Gasol on the strong side with no spacing to make the entry pass); and (2) Odom defends the ball, not his man; he is our premier help defender, but is woefully incapable of ignoring the ball and staying with a roaming shooter with Lewis’s range.

    We will be very frustrated at times that Gasol doesn’t get the ball against Lewis, and that Odom leaves him free to help on a driving Turkoglu or posting Howard. But, we’ll also be happy with Odom flashing to the rim for a pass and outrebounding an outmuscled Lewis. And with Gasol raining in little jump hooks. Hopefully we see more of the positive.

  90. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Just an aside,

    I can understand why LBJ didn’t congratulate the Magic or speak to the media after the game. If I had been in his position, I wouldn’t have wanted to speak to anyone let alone face the reality that my team had lost. Not after all the hype, the expectations, etc.

    Then again, I’m not trying to excuse his actions, because, try as he might explain it, it was in the end, very unsportsman-like. But still, I understand it, we’re all human, we all have our weak moments and I think we witnessed LBJ’s moment of weakness when he didn’t congratulate the Magic for beating his team.

    It’s like when Kobe skipped out congratulating the Suns after 06, but at he still talked to the media. The rivalry with the Suns was at it’s apex, especially after the Bell clothesline, the humiliation of losing after leading 3-1, so yeah, I understood why he didn’t want to see any of their faces after game 7. Even if it was unsportsman-like, I understood it.

    I’m not condoning their actions or trying to justify them, I’m just writing, I can understand why they did what they did, given their situation at the time.

  91. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Rob –

    I don’t think Bill Bridges was being disrespectful to the Orlando Magic when he posted that.

    And certainly, there are many Laker fans, including myself, who have posted how problematic the Magic can be and will be for the Lakers.

    I knew the Magic would defeat the Cavs, it was very clear to me how much better the Magic were than the Cavs. There is no doubt that the Magic pose serious matchup problems for the Lakers.

    Nobody here is denying that. There is no disrespect given to the Magic.

    But being a Lakers FANblog, what do you except? A doom and gloom post? Sure, the post is very optimistic and points out ONLY if the Lakers bring on their A-Game, will the Lakers have a chance at making this series easier on themselves (and the fans’ hearts). But it’s not being dismissive to the Magic or their players at all.

    Because we all know the Magic will bring it and the Lakers will have to respond. As fans, that’s all we can ask. And hope that the Lakers learned something from last year’s finals.

  92. I am more concerned about this lineup that the Magic could field:

    Pietrus
    Turkoglu
    Lewis
    Gortat
    Howard

    Unless Lakers really play Kobe/Ariza/Odom/Gasol/Bynum, there is no way the Lakers can guard that lineup.

  93. @ 82 – I think that should we outlast the Magic that Phil would be tied with Bill Russell as the player/coach with the most rings. Remember that Russell won 11 titles as a player and (at least) one of those titles he was a player/coach – so that could count for 12. That said, the Celtics didn’t hand out rings to all players every year they won back in the 60s. They gave one to a player the year he was on his first title team and then gave out watches, tvs, etc. for successive titles. It was only later that the Cs gave him all of his rings. All of that aside, I’d love to see us get #15, Phil #10 as a coach and Kobe #4 as a player. Go LakeShow!

  94. Coffee is For Closers June 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    90. that could be a tough matchup, but if the magic went to that, I’d press the hell out of them, and wear our turkaglo who has to play point fwd in that scenario. You could force magic to use up valuable shot clock, and force them to start their offense out much higher.

  95. 89

    Why on earth would Orlando play that lineup? If they want to go big in the backcourt they can just use Lee at PG.

  96. Andy wrote on May 31, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    As a Laker fan, I’m still scarred from last years finals in which all I can remember was a sh*t storm of 3’s from Eddie House, Paul Pierce & Ray Allen. 3 point shooting is a scary memory for Laker fans. If Lakers bring half as much heart as the Bulls brought to the C’s, Lakers win in 5. If Lakers come out flat, Magic in 5. Those three in a row in Orlando are the x-factor. It’s asking a lot to win both games at home, so if Lakers split 1-1, they have to win 2/3 in Orlando to come back ahead, this doesn’t feel good at all..”

    One game at a time my man, one game at a time.

    There is only one game to focus on righ tnow, game one.

  97. #91PBSpread-Its not dismissive of the Magic at all? These are some of the quotes from the blog:

    “The Magic is comprised of weak individual defenders…”

    “In contrast, non(e) of the teams the Magic has played thus far has prepared them for the challenges that the Lakers bring.”

    “Assuming that the Lakers have cured themselves of the Malaise of the early rounds and brings effort each night, 4 games or 5 is a possibility.”

    And really just take that last one as the best example. What that says is that so long as the Lakers show and bring effort, this series is done in 4 or 5. How is that not dismissive of the Magic?

    I like a healthy debate and talking about the game and the match-ups that it will bring. I’m not here to start trouble.

  98. Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing must be relieved right now. For the time being, they are no longer in the “greatest player to never win a ring” conversation.

  99. Just got a feeling Kobe was pacing himself this year after running out of gas in the finals last year after dominating the first 3 rounds of the playoffs and the whole regular season

    he’s played 3 straight full years nearly nonstop when you factor in playoff runs and full regular sesons and team usa summers

    he paced himself this yera in my opinion and stepped up his game for playoff time, he really did have trouble with battier and the rockets d while getting tuned up and switching up gears, and now he really turned it on against denver

    and i just have a feeling he’s gonna do sometihing really really special in these finals. I really do

  100. Lawler’s Law June 1, 2009 at 11:08 am

    ” The crux of the scheme is not doubling and staying with perimeter shooters. Against the Cavs, with no post presence, this scheme is perfect. Against the Lakers who can post up Gasol and Odom against Lewis, this scheme breaks down. Once the Magic double down low, their sticky perimeter defense is gone. Wide open shots and driving lanes should present themselves. If Howard gets in foul trouble every single game when the lanes are closed and he need not play any man defense, the Lakers could cause serious foul issues for the Magic.”

    The Nuggs did not double down low most of the series and this bothered your big men. The final game, they started doubling everyone, including Kobe, thus they get blown out. The Magic should take this into consideration. Stay home and let your bigs play one on one…yes, Howard will bein foul trouble, esp the first game, but he’ll adjust.

  101. #57

    Dwight is not that big for an NBA center, it’s true, but I don’t think anyone his size has ever been that athletic with enough skill to matter (and his skills are still developing). He jumps like a guard, and is quick on his feet. He will be difficult to contain. The Lakers bigs have to be energetic enough to not let him get deep post position. That limits his effectiveness.

    And on offense, as always, the key is Pau. He has the footwork to make Howard work, and can certainly give Lewis difficulties, and can find the open man.

    This will be a really tough series. Let’s hope the Lakers bring it with energy and intelligence as they did in Games 5 and 6 of the WCF. They’ll need it. Orlando is playing very confidently right now. I do believe the Lakers can win but they’ll need to truly bring their A game consistently.

  102. Rob,

    As a Laker fan, I agree with you that the Magic are goig to be very tough. You said this was just like the Cav series all over again. Well, my deja vu feeling is that this is just like last year when everyone was picking the Lakers over the Wheelchair Man and his cohorts and I am trying to erase that series from my memory banks.

    The only reason I am leaning towards the Lakers in this series (other than being a homer) is home court, and thinking Jameer is not playing (as he did in the two regualr season games).

    The fascinating thing about this series is that the match up problems really do work both ways. It really comes down to who exploits them best.

  103. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers1-2009jun01,0,6422369.story

    Shaw’s in charge of our defensive scheme. He might be a bit less married to the SST than Rambis, we’ll see what he comes up with.

  104. I might have already said this, but home court against the Magic means little to me. Turk is more beastly on the road than at home, and the Magic have an incredible amount of mental toughness gained through their early playoff battles.

    I think VoR had the best line of this section when he said: “The fascinating thing about this series is that the match up problems really do work both ways. It really comes down to who exploits them best.”

    That’s all it really is. Play to our strengths, execute the game plan. If we revert to Kobe-centric basketball or our shooters go MIA again, this could end up a nightmare. Two very evenly matched teams, and I think in the end it’ll come down to exploiting mismatches and which supporting cast shows up better.

  105. 85: Rob, no worries. This is all just talk anyway until the guys get on the court and settle things.

    Is it me guys, or for some reason, I’m not nearly as afraid of the Magic players just coming out of the blue and dominating the rim for what seemed like uncontested rebounds and putbacks as the Nuggets did for most of the series. Aside from Howard being a rebounding machine in that regard, if Howard can somehow be moved away a bit, we should have an easier time getting rebounds.

    It looked like a disaster at some points in the Denver series.

    I just can’t see it being the same way in this series.

    Bye.

  106. I agree with this being an easier challenge based on the matchup advantages the lakers have. Kobe and Gasol are too cerebral, and PJax is too smart of a matchup coach for the matchups to work in Orlando’s advantage.

    Gasol on the high post guarded by Howard with Ariza and Odom slashing is a nightmare matchup for the Magic because it moves Howard away from the hoop. If he sags, Gasol will nail that elbow jumper all day. He has to honor the jumper, leaving Odom free to punish Lewis or Turk down low. And they have to play Kobe in 1:1 matchups, because Ariza is playing well enough to punish them otherwise.

    Defensively, the Lakers have always figured out a way to get it done when it needs it the most. It took them 4.5 games to systematically identify ways to shut down the Nuggets. I expect they figure out how to limit easy shots for the Magic in less than 4 games.

    I expect Kobe to sag and help like he has all playoffs because Lee is not any more dangerous a shooter than D.Jones, Battier, or Brewer. This will help Bynum and Gasol stay in front of Howard and force jumpers rather than dunks.

  107. I had originally started a piece called “Why the Magic will Win”. I can think of many reasons why.

    In Howard and Turkoglu, the Magic have two players every bit as unique as Pau and LO. Howard is the next evolution of the mid-sized big man, every bit of muscle fibre being fast-twitch yet somehow with the stamina to run the equivalent of 5 miles. And Turkoglu is the modern-day inheritor of Magic Johnson’s crown. Turkoglu, not LO is the best 6’10” ball-handler, passer, and quarterback since Magic.

    The team as a whole can get unconsciously hot. It is as if, for 3 – 5 minute stretches the perimeter 4 players channel the spirit of Andrew Toney.

    Most impressive about the Magic is their resilience, the ability to play each possession at a time even while being down by 20 points on the road.

    But this is not a Magic blog but a Laker one. And there is a reason why the title is written that way. Why…. the Lakers will Win… not … “The Lakers will Win”.

    The piece is a biased, Laker fan’s view of the series. Even so, this blog is populated by who can handle the truth and will hold the team accountable. From Vujacic and Farmar’s under-achievement, Fisher’s rapid aging, Lamar’s volatility, and Jackson’s intrasigence, FB&G posters have been more critical than the national press about their team.

    Still, I think many readers will agree that the biggest weakness the the Lakers possess is the lack of focus/killer instinct. And while it would be nice to believe that this illness was cured in games 5 and 6 versus Denver, this condition, like diabetes and arthritis, might just be a long-term one, only cured with change in coaching or personnel.

    Thus I make my prediction with the caveat.

    Kurt and I had discussed possibly having a post titled “Why the Magic will Win”..

    It would be nice to read logical, cogent arguments espousing this view.

  108. Don’t look now, but the Laker killer Jameer Nelson might be coming back. Be careful Laker fans – don’t plan the parade before you have the trophy. The Magic upended an entire marketing campaign already – don’t underestimate them. Get ready for the Blue and White to Ignite!!!

  109. Orlando’s outside shooting is good enough to win them at least 1 game. My only concern is that LA doesn’t allow this to happen in Game 1. That could sway the momentum drastically and would make Turk extremely confident on the pick and roll. Watching the ECF, this series really hinges on him. When he’s confident, cruising around picks, hitting jumpers, and finding his teammates with precision passes on the perimeter, this team has crazy Mojo.

    I expect Kobe to try to take the wind out of his sails when this does happen by playing intense defense on him when needed and taking him to the hole when they match up on the other end.

  110. @106. Lee is a more dangerous shooter(40%) than DJones and Brewer and is comparable from 3pt. range to Battier( but he has a better shot fake drive attack game and mid-range game). Kobe can’t sag and play help D this series unless they stick him on Alston (who can have bad off-nights).

    And I really do think the Gasol post up advantage on Lewis is much more dangerous than Lewis’ quickness advantage against Pau. Really the key for me is Bynum, as has been stated. If he gets in foul trouble, They have Dwight on Pau now and that’s no longer a good option. LO would be on Lewis and while he may be able to post him and score every so often, its my opinion that the Magic will live with this.

    So for Magic the plan is: Attack Bynum early, get him out, and eliminate the Gasol Lewis matchup. And we haven’t even got to Kobe yet. If he goes off, its over. Not saying that he will go off, but if he does LA will have too many options ifand when Kobe is doubled.

  111. #108

    Jameer Nelson won’t make a difference, even if he does come back. And since when is he a Laker killer? 2 regular season wins doesn’t make you a force against a certain team.

    I almost hope he does come back because he’s out of shape, and it will ruin the Magic’s rotation/chemistry. I’d rather have the ball in the hands of an undersized PG who hasn’t played since February than in Turkoglu’s (who killed the Cavs with his distributing abilities)

  112. Rob-
    You’re awfully sensitive about your team aren’t you? It’s only a game.

    >>“The Magic is comprised of weak individual defenders…”

    Why did you leave out the second half of this sentence? Is it because it’s not nearly as dismissive a comment if you add in the “who execute a scheme,” and then explains why that scheme worked against the Cavs but is less likely to work against the Lakers?

    >>“In contrast, non(e) of the teams the Magic has played thus far has prepared them for the challenges that the Lakers bring.”

    When was the last time King James and his merry band ran the triangle? How mobile, really, were Cleveland’s bigs? Could they cut, handle, pass and finish like LO/PG/AB? How was their post game? Was Cleveland’s backup PF willing to step into an open 3FG if left open beyond the arc if given the chance (LO: 3FG% in the playoffs: 52%)?

    Don’t get sucked into the “Kobe equals LeBron, ergo the Lakers equal the Cavs” vortex. They are not similar players or teams dispite what Nike and Vitamin Water want you to think.

    >>“Assuming that the Lakers have cured themselves of the Malaise of the early rounds and brings effort each night, 4 games or 5 is a possibility.”

    Is it really that dismissive of an opponent to say that if a team – any team, mind you – devises a perfect gameplan and executes it flawlessly, then they will not lose? I grant that it’s a big assumption to make, but given the assumption, the conclusion follows. Whether of not the assumption is valid remains to be seen, but at least it’s less of an assumption than waiting for divine intervention.

  113. J. Nelson…..he’s a Laker killer?……. and Ruben Patterson is the Kobe Stopper.

  114. Nelson did, in fact, play very well against the Lakers and was a key–maybe the key–in both wins. Even if he doesn’t play at all or much, I think activiating him is a nice bit of gamesmanship by Orlando. After the Aaron Brooks adventure, I do not think Laker fans should be writing off even a rusty Nelson.

    One thing to look at is Kobe vs. Pietrus. Pietrus is strong and quick, a good head-up on-ball defender. He gave both Pierce and James difficulties at times.

    As we have said, the X-factors continue to be Odom and/or Bynum. While the schemes and adjustments wil be key as always, the Lakers simply don’t lose much when they have that third weapon. With five days to rest his back and both personal and financial motivation, this could be Odom’s time to be a difference-maker.

  115. Nelson is a Laker killer in that all quick PGs give our defense trouble. Now can you plug him in and get quality minutes? I certainly hope not.

    I shudder a bit when I continue to hear that this series will be “easier” based on matchups. Haven’t we said that every series, especially in the WCF?

    As Bill and many have said, this really hinges on which version of our role players show up. They’re inconsistent. Odom can certainly take Lewis into the post, but that’s provided he has one of his more aggressive games and doesn’t float around the perimeter. Matchups with this Lakers team are hard to predict because of the inconsistency of our 3-8 guys.

    To me, the effects of matchups are a bit difficult to pinpoint in theory unless they’re clear-cut (for example, Rashard can destroy Ben Wallace, and on the other end Wallace can do nothing to score on Lewis).
    There’s too many unknowns until the series starts. How big of a matchup problem is the C position? Will Bynum be closer to Perkins or Big Z defensively? Will Pau’s offensive game go awry because of the pounding he takes guarding Dwight? Should I be writing promos for ABC?

  116. Nick-
    I think Travis has the Lakers plan of attack correctly identified for the Gasol/Odom/Ariza front court:

    1) Gasol in the high post looking to hit cutters if Howard comes out to contest.
    2) Else – Shoot the J, big man. Shoot the J.
    3) Next time down, pump fake to get Howard in the air and drive the lane. (Hey… We can dream, right?)

  117. Mason –

    Yeah that might be their plan.

    I just don’t like Gasol’s jumper that much. I think it’s a bit inconsistent. I like him more as a back to basket player.

    I’ve heard Jeff Van Gundy point at multiple times that when Kobe passes out of being doubled in the post to Pau( who is flashing to the mid post area as a pressure release valve), the D should let him shoot that rather than coming out and Gasol feeding for a layup or driving from that spot. JVG may be off but I agree with him in that I like Pau’s low post game more than his high post game

  118. Nick-

    That’s why JVG isn’t coaching an NBA team right now. Pau was a 50% shooter from around the left elbow this season and a 48% shooter from straight away. It’s not dead-eye, by any means, and about 12% lower than his FG% in the the paint, but if you leave him open for that shot, he will hurt you. Plus, if you give him too much space, his handle isn’t so bad that he can’t take one dribble, move himself up a few feet and step into an easier shot, or cause the defense to react and leave someone open in the low post.

  119. I actually agree with both Mason and Nick. Gasol is best starting out in the high post, because he has excellent vision and can pick the defense apart with his passing. If nothing’s there, then, rather than simply taking a jumper, he should dribble in and turn back to his low post game, which is when he’s the best scorer possible.

    He’s actually used that quite often, backing down opoonents and spinning into the lane or baseline for a hook after starting out in the high post.

  120. Charles Barkley is still the greatest player to never win a ring.

    Elgin Baylor, Ewing, and others are all in that conversation too. And Lebron.

  121. em-k wrote on June 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

    #57

    Dwight is not that big for an NBA center, it’s true, but I don’t think anyone his size has ever been that athletic with enough skill to matter (and his skills are still developing). He jumps like a guard, and is quick on his feet. He will be difficult to contain. The Lakers bigs have to be energetic enough to not let him get deep post position. That limits his effectiveness.

    And on offense, as always, the key is Pau. He has the footwork to make Howard work, and can certainly give Lewis difficulties, and can find the open man.

    This will be a really tough series. Let’s hope the Lakers bring it with energy and intelligence as they did in Games 5 and 6 of the WCF. They’ll need it. Orlando is playing very confidently right now. I do believe the Lakers can win but they’ll need to truly bring their A game consistently.”

    The only one i can think of that was like that was Amare as center of the 2007 suns with Diaw and Marion as forwards alongside him in the frrontcourt.

    young alonzo mourning or young Moses Malone or young Hakeem remind me of that somewhat too, in that all were 6’10 or under but strong/quick/athletic/aggressive/powerful/agile/skilled as humanly possible, just like dwight (and 2007 or 2005 Amare) as a center.

  122. Difference with 1v1 for Lebron is he has no post game. Give Kobe the ball in the paint and watch him score with fade-aways on Peitrus/Lee/whoever at SG… and the double teams will come. I dont mean use this tactic all game, but that will be the difference between Lebrons and Kobe’s 1v1 matchups.

  123. As long as the Lakers make Howard beat us they will win. Orlandos game is inside outside. Let the bigs help each other with Howard and the smalls need to stay home with the shooters.. We do this we win…Ohh yeah and if Kobe does this
    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/just-a-reminder-orlando-kobe-throws-down-on-howard/
    we win….

  124. steve,
    No way, no way is Charles Barkley better than Elgin.

    Elgin invented the floater move that Dr. J perfected.
    Elgin was famous for getting his shot off just before he hit the ground.
    Elgin was an outstanding rebounder because he knew exactly where the ball would rebound to
    Elgin scored 72pts in a playoff game
    Elgin averaged over 30pts/game until his knee operation in 1965

    Just because you didn’t see Elgin play doesn’t mean Charles has anything on him.

  125. Craig: +1.

    Baylor was transcendent. I speak only from the limited tape I got to see, but he’s to me one of the most underrated players in the history of the league.

  126. A little confused…What about Dwight getting the bigs into foul trouble? And how come Gasol had bad numbers against the magic this year?

  127. Evan, both of those are a concern. For some reason, Gasol did not put up big numbers against Lewis. I don’t have access to those games to go back and watch them and pick them apart. But I think you still have to try to exploit the mismatch.

  128. Well my take is less deeply analytical (to be clear, I love the analysis on this site) and more big picture:

    1. The Lakers have repeatedly risen to the challenge this year when confronted with adversity; a tiger doesn’t magically change its stripes and this team is no paper tiger.

    2. One manifestation of this toughness is that unlike past years, in ultra close games that come down to the final 2-4 minutes, the Lakers win those games consistently this year. Most of Orlando’s wins came down to the final handful of minutes, and the Lakers are a most resilient bunch at this time (not to mention Mr. Closer in Kobe).

    3. Kobe has emerged as a true quarterback, something that he showed major glimpses of throughout the season, but came to full fruition against Denver. Not only does this make the Lakers a better team with more dimensions, but when it comes together for them, they are “scary good.”

    3. This year the Lakers have exhibited what I call the Anaconda Squeeze, a stretch of the game (typically) between 3rd/4th quarters when they go into lock-down mode and squeeze the life out of the competition (usu. resulting in 21-7 types of runs). They did this to Denver down stretch in Game 5 and had a couple such runs in Game 6 that basically broke Denver’s will, and Denver was feeling every bit as confident as Orlando is right now.

    That said, just as with Denver, it’s not hard to see a scenario where the Lakers lose, as the competition is playing on top of their game and is disciplined, patient and has a good scheme on both sides of the ball.

    That said, my money is on the Lakers because of what they have shown me all year; their unity of purpose/hunger; the experience from last year; and because the one player that most disturbed the Lakers — Jameer Nelson — is unlikely to play, and even if he does, will be mega-rusty (I remember a similar return by Magic Johnson against Houston that did not end well).

    Plus, as noted by Bill Bridges, we have been fortified by Houston/Denver in areas that are our historical weaknesses.

    Btw, I have blogged on my take in a post called:

    The Anaconda Squeeze: Why the Los Angeles Lakers Will Beat the Orlando Magic (http://bit.ly/kTZN9)

    Check it out if interested.

    Mark

  129. Excellent, mature analysis and comment on this site. As a lifelong Lakers fan in the Rockies, it was sweet to see the less than big league Nuggets meet their demise in Game 6. The upcoming Finals will be an intriquing series with several matchups to watch. In the end, Kobe’s drive and the team’s overall hunger will put them over the top. Lakers in 6 games. Ariza will be a revelation once again.

  130. We should have got the job done last year so let’s make up for it this year boys!!!!!!!

  131. Okur is in NO means Lewis, if Gasol can get out to Lewis in time (doubtful) lewis will just pump fake and drive to the Hoop ,Okur never had that option cause he’s slow…… Gasol will have as much trouble guarding Lewis as Lewis will with guarding Gasol!!!.
    The major concern is foul trouble… for both teams,
    (howard, and Lewis for the Magic) (bynum and Gasol for LA)

  132. Caleb Johnson June 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Courtney Lee is an exceptional 1-on-1 defender, FWIW. Much better than Pietrus.

    And I really hope the Lakers try to man up Bynum on Dwight. That will be ugly.

  133. It’s definitely smart to revisit the Gold Medal game and see how Spain played Howard with Pau. The thing is that the Lakers and the Magic are very different from Team USA and the Spanish Team. The way they both utilize their players down to the kind of offense that they run. The International rules are also different from the NBA. The good thing is that Phil can take some positives from what Pau had done against Howard and implement that into the game plan, but I couldn’t see Phil not having already explored that option.

    Also, the Gold Medal game was last summer, while the Lakers and the Magic met twice during the regular season and was much more current. The fact of the matter is that how we played each other during the regular season is more likely how we would have to attack one another as opposed to the Gold Medal game. Although, all options needs to be exhausted if the Lakers want to bring the championship back home to LA this year!

    GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  134. I think it all rest on the leader of the team Kobe his decision making willing to pass the ball and get his team involved cause we all know he can heat up when he want and the 2 game magic won against la during the season dont mean nothing this is the playoff lakers are the best raod team in the nba and we are quite good at home we have the best player also playing for us so this is not gonna be a walk in the park but I xpect us to win it just 4 more games we need to win guys. Go La ohhh almost forget i wanna see Kobe take it to Dwight lets see how he can handle foul trouble. Go LA