Lakers/Magic: When The Lakers Have The Ball

Kurt —  June 4, 2009

Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers
This should be an entertaining side of the ball – the Lakers high powered offense against the best defensive team in the NBA during the regular season.

They were the best defensive team in the land in part because they did a good job of funneling penetration right into the NBA’s defensive player of the year in Dwight Howard. And that is one thing the Lakers need to counter by pulling Howard out of the paint —which is another reason I think Gasol can be successful against Howard, he has that 18 footer his man has to respect). It was something Spain did a lot to the USA in the Gold Medal game and the Lakers will use it some. But in that game it also showed that even in the block Gasol can score on Howard with some of his counter moves. Darius explains:

Besides Duncan and Yao, Gasol is probably the most skilled offensive post player in the game. He utilizes a face up game out to 16-18 feet (with the ability to drive and shoot from that distance), he has a power post up game where he can back you down, he has a turnaround jumpshot over both shoulders, jumphooks with both hands, and counter moves to both the middle and baseline – not to mention his supremely gifted passing. I’m not saying that Howard can’t defend Gasol, but he hasn’t had to deal with such a diverse post game for this entire post-season and he’ll have that challenge this series. You add to that Bynum (who has been looking better in the past several games) and he’ll have to work on defense in much different ways than he’s had to in a while. Plus, there is still the challenge of helping on drives from Kobe and Odom – that’s a lot of responsibility. Now take everything I said about Howard having to defend, and apply that to Rashard Lewis or Gortat or Battie and multiply their problems tenfold.

But when Bynum is in the game, the Lakers still need to get Howard out of the paint, and maybe the answer his bringing Bynum out for the high pick and roll. When Bynum and Gasol are both in, the Lakers should go to Gasol in his matchup with Rashard Lewis. Kwame a. explains:

Last series Lewis was able to get away without exerting too much energy on D. This enabled him to have enough energy to hit a couple crucial late-game 3 balls against the Cavs. In this series the Lakers can attack Lewis early often. This will have the effect of a. wearing him down so his shooting is worse late in games and b. possibly getting him into foul trouble. When he is guarding Gasol, the Lakers should attack him on the block, forcing the Magic to decide whether to double him (opening up Fish and Trevor) or single-cover him. When he is guarding LO, the Lakers should isolate LO and let him attack off the dribble.

Speaking of posting up — Kobe can post up Courtney Lee all day long, and command a double. He can do the same thing to Petrius, although that is less of an advantage. But I’d like to see the Lakers explore this. Force Orlando to double Kobe, that will open things up for everyone else – the Magic don’t want to do it, Kobe needs to play well enough to force them to (and that is more than just scoring).

Orlando likes to run on offense, specifically having guys spot up for transition threes. The Lakers need to get back and be aware of this but another counter is to go hard to the offensive glass. Kwame a. explains:

This may seem counter-intuitive because pounding the O boards always creates the potential for transition in 3′s. However, if the Lakers can get some early success attacking the glass (something they should be able to do with the size advantage we have when Lewis is at the 4) the Magic may be forced to forgo leaking out or risk the possibility we eat them up on 2nd chance points.

In the end, the Lakers need to run their offense, but more importantly really execute their offense. Darius can have the final words.

As I’ve been saying since the beginning of the season – move and pass with intent, screen hard, read the defense, and shoot when open. Whenever we’ve run our sets with consistency, we’ve gotten good looks. I think we can do the same thing against Orlando, but it won’t come easy. I do expect our offense to show it can score in one on one situations (with Kobe and Gasol – and to a lesser extent with Bynum and Odom) to loosen up the defense and allow our secondary players to get better looks. But I do think that once our guys show that they will score on single coverage, that our movement will prove to be even more beneficial and that our guys will get the types of looks that will allow them to thrive.

Kurt

Posts

139 responses to Lakers/Magic: When The Lakers Have The Ball

  1. Good breakdown. I think Bynum should have a couple of plays run for him early to see if he can maybe draw a foul on Howard. At the very least, if he shows he’s going to be a threat Howard will be more reluctant to help on penetration (which is the foundation of Orlando’s defense).

  2. Hopefully Bynum will come out with the energy he had right before his injury. Those stretch of games, from the Clippers to the Memphis game, had him hitting the glass the way he should. Would like to see that Bynum show up this series.

  3. What do you guys think about the ‘physicalness’ of the Magic defense?

  4. Forum Blue & Gold = smartest blogger/fans in the world

  5. Agree with Joel. On top of that, Bynum plays with less of a rhythm and less activity on both ends if he doesn’t get touches, so get him the ball early.

    Is having Odom attack off the dribble the best move? He has no speed advantage over Lewis, and he’s drives are very predictable and are most effective against slower players. I’d actually like to see Lamar take him down into the post more often, just pound on him and wear him down.

    3QC has a great breakdown from ER showing that Lewis is a much better defender than many of us are giving him credit for. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

  6. Snoopy,
    Lewis is a pretty good defender. He has good quickness and length to combat most players. His PER differential says as much as he’s a +4.7 on the season as a PF and holding the players that he guards to a slightly below average PER of 14.2. I do think that Odom should go the block against him, but more important, he just needs to be aggressive. So, I agree with Kwame, have LO drive – driving really does feed his aggression as he draws fouls and does make some difficult shots when on the move. But I also agree with you. I also think he needs to seek open space because when LO is in the game he is often paired with Gasol. And since Pau demands so much attention, that is when LO can flourish by getting the ball off smart and hard cuts and also attack the offensive glass when the defense looks to watch Pau attack.

  7. #2, Don,
    I think that after Houston’s two-headed defensive beast (Battier-Artest) and the wrestling matches that were the Denver series, the physical Magic defense is either going to be just another familiar way of playing, or, for all we know, not seem so bad by comparison.

    I also think we want to see Mbenga challenge Howard for a rebound and knock him over. Bang! :)

  8. Is the game really tonight? It’s seems like it’s been a week since the Lakers last played . . . oh, wait. It has.

  9. 4

    From what I’ve seen, I don’t think Lewis is a bad post defender, especially when you consider the fact that’s a convert 3-man. However, he doesn’t have the strength or length to guard Gasol without help. He’s also a mediocre rebounder which can be exploited by Gasol and Odom.

    One thing’s for sure, Orlando’s bigs should be far more preoccupied with guarding their own men than they were at any point during the Eastern Conference playoffs.

  10. Just got back from some much needed R & R in Spain so I missed game 7 against Houston and the WCF. However, I do have one humorous story:

    At my hotel I had been trying to see if game 7 against the Rockets could be seen on tv somewhere in town. The guy at the desk was a Laker fan. The next day, I told him how it appeared Gasol was the best Laker in game 7, from what I had read. He misunderstood and thought I was saying Gasol was the best player on the team, period. So he said, “No, no, no – Kobe Bryant – he is All-Galaxy.”

    Sounded like it was true against Denver.

  11. This forum needs an edit function. :P

    “the fact that’s a convert 3-man” = “the fact that he’s a converted 3-man”

  12. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict (it’s more like hope) that Fisher will have a good series with shooting 3s. If he can contribute 3-4 3′s a game, our offense can function so much more efficiently.

    I do hope Ariza’s hot shooting will continue, but chances are he won’t be able to sustain his percentage (50% for the entire playoffs).

    Can’t wait. Can’t wait.

    Win or lose, we’ll have much more to discuss and dissect after tonight.

    Since Phil is undefeated when going up 1-0 in 7 game series, would it be safe to say that this game is a MUST win for us?

  13. No, pb. It is a must win for THEM. Phil has won a few series after losing the first game. Orlando has to keep us from winning the first game since Phil never loses a series after clinching the opener.

  14. String theory postulates that all matter and energy vibrate in 11 dimensions.

    All vibrations regarding the Lakers vs Magic has been examined in 12.

    What is certain is that despite these 12 dimensions we will find that there are actually more dimensions, curled up within the 12, that only reveal themselves during the actual contest.

    These will be surprising. What can they be?

    For the Lakers:

    Positive Surprise – Bynum plays strong Kwame/Perkins low post D on Howard and is not overwhelmed?

    Negative Surprise – The entire team comes out ala Houston series and is flat on offense and late on defense?

    For the Magic:

    Positive Surprise – Howard continues his blistering run at the free throw line? He gets there often and makes them.

    Negative Surprise – The young neophytes, Lee, Pietrus and even Howard are influenced by the spotlight and tighten up?

    Finally “Jameer Nelson, The Copenhagen Experiment“. Much like Schrodinger’s cat, Nelson is now pure potential, with both quantum states of quicksilver, dead-slinger and rusty, rotation-disrupter equally probable. Will tonight’s experiment will introduce the OBSERVER and be the quantum measurement that collapses Jameer Nelson into a definite state?

  15. Sigh – These FB&G strategic breakdowns, are, as always excellent reads. I was really feeling confident about the Lakers, then I saw the ref assignments for tonight:

    Danny Crawford
    Joe DeRosa
    Ken Mauer

    This season the refs have the following home team records:

    Crawford 55-36 = .604%
    DeRosa 40-32 = .555%
    Mauer 46-23 = .666%

    By the way, Crawford and Mauer were 2 of the 3 refs (the 3rd was Bob Delany) that reffed the 38-10 ft game 2 in Boston last year.

    Want something else to make your heart sink? Joe DeRosa reffed Game 1 with Houston AND Game 1 with Denver. Houston won Game 1 and Denver would have won Game 1 if they didn’t choke at the end. In both Games, the Road Team shot more free throws.

    In other words, for the Lakers Game 1 at home, they were pretty much assigned the least favorable refs possible.

    Conspiracy theorists, have at it!

  16. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Bill, I just swallowed by tongue reading your post, but I think I enjoyed it.

  17. Good point about posting Kobe. However, the Lakers best strategy is to keep moving the ball. Orlando’s not a team with a lot of footspeed. Turk and Rashard have no chance whatsoever of keeping up with good ball rotation.

  18. I would be very happy if Bynum had little in terms of points/rebounds tonight, provided he sprints up and down the court each possession and boxes out on Howard each shot.

  19. Beautiful day in Chicago, and as far as I can tell after a long, long walk I am the only person wearing a Lakers shirt in Hyde Park. I can’t believe it was a year ago that Reed and I texted each other through a lacerating and humbling series with the Minnesota Celtics. I can’t believe it’s been almost half a year since that first sweet taste of redemption on Christmas Day. I know this is Kobe’s Finals, but if I had the power or the right I’d dedicate them to Derek Fisher. Come on, old man, show us you got one more in you. Old fighter. I’m going to follow my gut and say Lakers in five. No disrespect to the Magic, who are formidable. Lakers in five, and Fish shoots lights out basketball. Come on, gut.

  20. I can still remember walking the streets of downtown Chicago well after midnight following the game 4 Boston meltdown, feeling confused, broken, lost, numb. Texting Dex for comfort and clarity. I am a reasonable, grown man but a simple ballgame still shakes me to my deepest core.

    I want this series. For Phil, Pau, Lamar, Ariza, and Fish. For Red’s legacy and Boston 2008. For the darkness of Summer 2004 and Summer 2007. For Dex. For my marriage. For Phoenix and Portland and Utah and Sacramento fans everywhere. For Kurt, Darius, Kwame, and everyone else here. For Simmons and Abbott. For the thousands of hours I’ve spent/wasted/enjoyed following this silly game.

    But, mostly, for Kobe, who somehow makes all of the time and worry and frustration of unrestrained fandom sacred and not silly.

  21. NOBODY CAN FILL KOBE’S SHOES, EVEN UGLY PIETRUS: http://tinyurl.com/ouxm8o

  22. Ho Hum…I guess the Lakers must win to end this discussion too. The discussion? How many championships would the Lakers won if Kobe and Shaq has stayed together?

    My guess is 3.

    Why only three? We, we still have a CBA that restricts how much money a team can spend and the Buss family only has so much money. Let’s see now…Kobe = $20M and Shaq = $30M – that’s $50M for two players.

    We saw this in 2004 when our supporting cast was getting very thin. The only thing that saved us was two HOF players elected to sign with us for the minimum. One didn’t fit (Payton) and the other got injured in the playoffs and wasn’t available in the finals (Malone).

    Just how often could we count on picking up HOF players for the minimum and how good would they be at the very end of their careers?

    Our team roster would look worse than the 2005-06 team roster that Kobe dragged into the 1st round.

  23. Is there any word about the game being on espn360 online? Some of us do not own televisions, per se…

  24. Folks – Unless Gasol or Odom get in foul trouble, expect nothing more out of Bynum than about 17 minutes, 7 pts, and maybe 4 rebounds.

    I like the kid, but his focus is on offense and not on defense and, as a result, Phil will quickly yank him out of games if he sees that he’s not pushing Howard defensively. Sure, Bynum starts off giving his all defensively, but given that Bynum’s conditioning is still sub-par, around the 4 minute mark he regresses to his lazy defensive style and slow defensive positioning.

    Not trying to be a party-pooper, just trying to bring those folks expecting greatness out of Bynum down to earth.

    Having said that, Lakers have the pieces the win this thing. All they have to do is bring their A game.

  25. dave in hillsboro June 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    15, Burgundy,

    I think you’re interpreting the ref assignments incorrectly. Those are pretty good records for the home team when those refs are officiating…and the Lakers will be the home team. Be happy we didn’t get Javie.

  26. man been so busy with work I have only had time to read FB&G bu tnot post.

    I like the Lake Show chances if Orlando plays D on Kobe like they did LeBron (sort of letting him get his and limiting what everyone else does), the Lakers will eat them up. Kobe has the opportunity to pass to actual offensive weapons in Gasol/Odom/Bynum and even Ariza and Fish….a huge change from Big Z and Varjeo and Smith.

    When in the triangle the Lakers space the floor better and can pass easier and more effectivley than the Cavs were able to do. I just dont see the Magic able to really hinder the Lakers in their normal way. The Lake show does not run Pick Roll as much as every other team does so that will limit the effectiveness of Howard too I think. And will Pau and Odom stretching the floor a more, the Magic will be a little lost of help defense I think.

    No matter what this will be a fun series to watch.

  27. 23 – 17 minutes, 7 pts, and 4 boards from young Drew might be plenty. We don’t need him to be a 20-10 man to win this series.

  28. People – it doesn’t matter if Drew has 0 points, if he is able to body Howard out and tire him out before Pau takes over with his moves.

  29. Dex perfectly captured the mood for the series today at his site, with a poem in honor of Fisher and brilliant Kobe piece placing Kobe as Dostoevsky. A sample:

    “It will not be the same to read about Kobe Bryant ten years from now, and it will not be the same to watch ten years from now his top ten dunks or passes or jump shots for the win. So savor this moment, Lakers fans; Dostoevsky, the poet of sin and suffering and redemption, is at the top of his game. It does not get better than this; it cannot get better than this. Some things transcend the debatable, and it is a privilege, win or lose, to love them before they are gone.”

    http://www.k24-8.blogspot.com/

  30. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I’d expect the Magic to come out tonight and immediately try to get the ball down low to Howard. They’ll be hoping to establish Howard, and possibly pick up a few quick fouls on bynum. Like the last few posts have mentioned, you hope he’s up to the task. If he can reasonably contain Howard, any doubt on the outcome of this series quickly dissolves. But, if he can’t contain him and gets himself into foul trouble, it makes the game and the series much more competitive. It will be up to Andrew to keep his attitude positive when things aren’t going his way – howard dunking on him, picking up cheap fouls, etc.

    Bynum’s attitude and confidence concern me… I hope he’s ready.

  31. I love how people (like Simmons) are saying “this is Kobe’s best last shot” only to later imply that Garnett’s “guarantee” of two more Celtic titles should be taken seriously.

    Apparently, a team with one 31 year old superstar and three youngsters with tremendous upside (Brown, Bynum, Ariza) is “on their last serious shot”, while one with a 32 (Pierce), 33 (Garnett) and 34 (Allen) year old aging superstars (and two of which are having off-season surgery) “never left.”

    Go figure.

  32. I’d still go with 3 HOF’s over 1 HOF any day…

  33. Milton, quantum theory, and Dostoevsky: the Lakers must be in the NBA finals…

  34. @ 31

    There are NUMEROUS things I disagreed with in that analysis (if you want to call it that)…Magic sweep if they win tonight? Come on!

    My favorite is that the Master of Panic will outcoach the Zen Master. I like SVG, but there’s a reason that Phil has a lot of championships…and it’s not because he’s only good at managing egos. Whitlock is Barkley with less credability.

  35. J -#31:

    Whitlock is like Simmons/Simmers/Plascke: they are not “sports” writers in the truest sense of the word as they do not cover sports, rather, the “human side of sports.”

    Their pieces are meant to irritate fans on one side of an issue and add fuel to the fire of fans on the other side of the issue.

    As far as your HOF comment…. I remember many laker fans who said in 2004 “I’ll take 4 HOF’s (Kobe, Shaq, Mailman, Payton) over none for the Pistons” – only to turn around and lose that series. So don’t be too quick to put your eggs in the HOF basquet.

    Also, I know Garnett if HOF worthy and Allen probably will be, but Pierce ? The guy is good, but I don’t know if anyone outside of Boston views him as a HOFmer.

  36. 31. J. Jason “i know it all” whitlock claims 8. If Rashard Lewis drives the lane, the Magic could sweep. Sweep? Really? Does he watch basketball?

  37. well, based on basketball-reference…paul pierce has a good shot at being a HOF’er.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/hof_prob_active.html

  38. I saw this all too well (#1 Team on offense vs. #1 Team on defense) in last year’s finals and we all know how that turned out. I am a huge Laker fan but a very worried one at the moment.

  39. Games are not given to those with talent; they are taken by those with focus and will.

  40. Orlando has a tendency to make other teams play to their style, and this can be dangerous with their long distance accuracy. The Lakers must not only secure the lead, but maintain it, otherwise the Magic will feel confident that they can come back late in a game, like they have all through the playoffs.

    Once we establish any type of lead, we must step on their windpipes to eliminate any hope for a rally. This means starting and ending quarters aggressively. The Magic are a rah-rah team, not an X’s and O’s type, so any emotional lift at the end or start of quarters plays in their favor. Make them adjust in the huddle and set-up plays and they’ll be toast.

    I’m less concerned with Bynum than I am with the Gasol/Lewis match-up. This coupled with Odom/Lewis is the key to the series. If we can get 20/10 from Pau and 15/10 from LO, this is a rout tonight.

    Go Lakers!

  41. j.d. Hastings June 4, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Great piece on Kobe by Henry at Truehoop. Having blasted him for his series of apparent hit pieces, it’s only right to post his make up column:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-41-22/Kobe-Bryant–No-Mere-God-of-Destruction.html

  42. If this has been posted already I apologize, and if not, here’s a link to a very good article about Kobe vs Kobe: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-lakers4-2009jun04,0,2192708.column

    Money quote:
    In this situation, a day before the NBA Finals, the world at the sneakers of the basketball’s gods, LeBron James would have been charming. Dwyane Wade would have been cute. Shaquille O’Neal would have made us howl.

    All of them are more easily embraceable and eminently likable than Bryant.

    But guess what? None of them are here.

  43. Ball movement. Ball movement. Ball movement. Cannot have stagnant periods in which Gasol does not touch the ball or Kobe dominates it. Also, now is the time for Andrew to earn his chops.

    In other news, Cleveland is gone nuts:

    http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/06/rasheed-to-the-cavs/

    $10 million a year for ‘Sheed? Really? $10 million?

  44. fyi… Lil Wayne made a Kobe song

    It is pretty great, and about time:

    http://www.imstrate.com/music/singles

  45. Who kidnapped Henry at Truehoop?

  46. Wow, I’d always thought I liked Kobe in a way that was inexplicable. Now I understand better. Immensely enjoyed The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment. Thanks for the comparison to Dostoevsky. Very enlightening.

  47. Okay. I can’t stand the suspense anymore. Work needs to be over NOW so I can go home and watch the NBA pre-game wind-up shows, with all the clips and footage and cheesey analysis and excitement and party!

    The next four hours are going to be painfully sloooooow and looooong… incredible that it took someone like Einstein to realize that time is a relative concept.

  48. The Lakers are here AGAIN!.Think how many teams and fans would be ecstatic just for that.Thanks to the Lakers for doing this so many times over the years.As someone once said “Just win,Baby”.

  49. 31. That wasn’t an analysis at all. No support whatsoever. It was just “Dwight will dominate Gasol,” this/that will happen, Lakers suck Magic rule. Don’t know how that even got published.

    Dwight has a ways to go before being in the same conversation as Bill Russell. Just because you can swat shots and rebound on a poor rebounding team doesn’t mean you’re the greatest defensive player ever.

  50. 42. Wow, that’s a surprisingly well written piece by Abbott on Kobe. I didn’t know he had it in him.

  51. Abbot… on Kobe… and is not an entire put down???

    Ok, I think Abbot and Simmons are joining forces to reverse jinx this team.

  52. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    ESPN News just reports Jamir Nelson to be activated tonight.

    Seems like a mistake to me for the magic, but they’re looking for an emotional lift. If they put him in, I run that guy through lots of PNR, and play him tight on defense, making him go to the hole for anything he wants on offense.

  53. #39. azzemoto,
    Yes, this is a familiar storyline, but this time there is a different cast of characters.

    Boston was a team that had the best help/recover team in the league. They pressured ball handlers, funneled them to help, and were still able to recover to the three point line. They were mostly able to do this because of very good/above average on ball defenders (Rondo, Posey, Pierce) and two excellent (though in different ways) big defenders in KG and Perkins.

    Orlando, on the other hand don’t help off of shooters/perimeter players, they funnel everything to Howard. In a way, this scheme is very similar to what the Spurs employ with Howard playing the role of Duncan. Over the years, Kobe has found the gaps in this type of defense because his game is so diverse. Look at Cleveland’s series against Orlando and also Cleveland’s series against the Spurs in the Finals. In both instances, those teams turned Lebron into a one man show (where he did quite well getting his own points) but continued to funnel him to excellent defensive bigs. And because Lebron is a player that wants to get all the way to the rim, this made it so he rarely had passing angles to players on the perimeter – or even if he did those guys were pretty much covered by players that didn’t have to help as much because their scheme is predicated on the big man (Duncan/Howard) helping/contesting shots right at the rim.

    Now look at Kobe. Kobe, while still able to get to the rim to finish, prefers to get to spots on the floor that allow him to shoot his mid-range jumper. This puts helpers (perimeter and big men) in a “no mans land” position of either helping off their man (because Kobe is closer to them – as he’s not right at the rim but more at the elbow or mid wing) or sticking to their man. And whatever the helper does can dictate to Kobe what to do. For example, Kobe drives to the elbow and is about to shoot his jumper – no one comes to help and he shoots. Same sequence – Howard steps up to show some help and Kobe rifles a pass to Howard’s man. Same sequence – now a perimeter defender slides over to show some help on Kobe and he fires a pass to one of our shooters. And so on and so on. Essentially, because Kobe would much rather play at the 12-18 ft mark, helping against him is much more difficult than helping on some one like Lebron – especially when the key to the scheme is funneling everything to the Big man protecting the rim.

    For these reasons, I think Orlando is going to find themselves in a much different help situation than they’ve found themselves in all post season. In a way, this is similar to what they faced against Boston with Pierce (as Pierce has a killer mid range game), only it’s Gasol and Bynum that Howard/Lewis are worrying about marking and not Baby/Perkins. I think our guys are better equipped to make Orlando pay if Kobe is doing what he normally does (which is dominate the mid range of the offense with his ability to shoot the jumper). Especially when you consider that Lee is a smaller defender and Pietrus has not traditionally been a Kobe stopper. We’ll see though. I think this is a very important subplot to how effective Orlando’s defense will be in this series.

  54. Just over four hours til tip-off. The flurries of articles appreciating Kobe Bryant are refreshing and just great to see. I especially liked Plaschke’s for some reason (normally not a fan).

    But i can’t wait for tonight. Kobe is really going to continue to do his thing. We all forget he is at his best as the team’s QB, anchoring the offense – his scoring only relied on when the play breaks down. I see him getting up and into Pietrus a lot and beating him w/ headfakes. Pietrus tends to get his hands up a lot, so if Kobe gets him off balance he gets easy foul calls.

    Lee is too small. Kobe is gonna be able to get an efficient 25 or 30 (think 1.5 pts/fga)…This all obviously hinges on our bigs being aggressive and our perimeter guys knocking down their shots in the offense. I’m beyond excited and feeling nearly euphoric that our journey has reached this point. I hope everybody enjoys the game tonight at one of their favorite spots and we get that very crucial game 1 win.

  55. I absolutely hate that so many ‘experts’ are picking the Lakers. It is a total disrespect of the Magic.

    Are the Lakers clearly that much better?

    I’d feel much better if we were the underdogs.

  56. Darius-that makes a ton of sense, great post.

  57. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    great point Darius, you articulate the differences between the orlando and boston d’s perfectly.

    If the Lakers step up their game to the level that the contributors have today, they’ll have no worries. Way to bring it today.

  58. An aside: I decided to start a new blog. It won’t be all sports, and when it’s sports it won’t be all basketball, but today’s post is about basketball, and specifically the 2/3/2 format of the finals:

    http://thenullhypodermic.blogspot.com/2009/06/nba-finals-and-232-format.html

  59. Darius – tell me you coach in your free time?

  60. or as your job? lol

  61. Also very interesting, a TN Congressman has sent a letter to Stern to repeal the age minimum:

    http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/06/congressman-to-nba-rescind-age-minimum/

    I, for one, have been against it so this is another good thing on a great day

  62. I get mad when i hear this “shaq carried the lakers to rings” crap, it isnt like Shaq was MJ and Kobe was pippen, for real.

    Why do people act like Shaq carried Kobe to rings? Shaq was top-dog, especially in 2000 when he was mvp of the league and kobe was just becoming an allstar at age 20, but in 2001 and 2002 it was alot more like Moses-Dr J or Kareem-Oscar or Magic-Kareem(2headed monster, dynamic duo, 2 alltime greats playing at unreal level)than it was Jordan-Pippen or Wade-Shaq or Kobe-Gasol(Clear #1, way way way better than the 2nd banana, and Pippen was GREAT by the way, thats just how good MJ was, and Shaq of 2006 was not better than Gasol of now, he averaged 12ppg in those finals).

    Kobe did ALOT MORE for the Lakers 2000-02 championships as the #2 guy than Shaq did for Miami in the 2006 championship as the #2 guy, thats for sure.

  63. j @ 33 adn MannyP13 @ 36 and this HoF stuff for Pierce, KG and Allen.

    I seriously dont get this talk. KG…I will give him my vote if I had one. But PP and RA? Not a chance. never once has either of them been All NBA First Team. Never once All NBA Defense (1, 2 or 3). No Scoring titles. Nothing else in the carrers of note until Ainge and Frankenstien put the pieces togehter and made Voltron for one season.

    Ray has got the prettiest shot ever IMO and PP has the heart of a champion but they have been the greatest players on terrible teams their entier carrers. Each of them, inclduing KG had only been to a conference finals 1 time in their carrers and they lost (until the Voltron year of course). They have some All-Star appearnces on their resume…but…that isnt enough.

    If DJ isnt in…they dont derserve in…

  64. Gasol reminds me of KG OFFENSIVELY, on offense he reminds me alot of KG in that when he decides to post up he can dominate and has every tool there is, and he is also versatile enough to face up and beat you from 18 feet, or beat you with his passing.

    Reason i bring it up? KG has always killed the magic in the past two seasons, and the celtics would go to him early and often in the post on lewis and he’d beat him down and draw howard over and then pass to perkins for easy layups on the weakside.

    Gasol can and will do this if we go to him the right way. And man oh man will that open up Kobe and our shooters (just like KG opens up for Pierce and Ray and them against the magic and theyve had huge games and owned the magic when they have KG in the lineup the past two years)

  65. “:Force Orlando to double Kobe, that will open things up for everyone else – the Magic don’t want to do it, Kobe needs to play well enough to force them to (and that is more than just scoring).”

    Glad you added that last part. I wouldve argued and made a bunch of points if you didnt, because the Magic gameplan is to bait the top guy from the other team into dropping 40 and taking mad shots and dominating the ball, thus making the rest of the team useless and out of rhythym.

    Ive seen them do it to the Cavs with Lebron 3 times in that series, do it to the HEAt with Wade twice this year (once he dropped 50 and they beat Miami by 20!), and yes: to us this year once, when Kobe dropped 43 and we still lost.

    That is what they want. It isnt all about scoring, its about making the right plays and being aggressive. Kobe knows this, thats where his experience gives such a bigtime advantage when it comes to WINNING over Lebron (and Wade too)

  66. Guys and gals…The age restriction is not a rights issue and the NBA doesn’t have a monopoly clause like baseball. The NBA doesn’t want young players in the NBA because most of them don’t have enough team experience to add anything to the league. By playing in college even one year – I would prefer two – these players would have a much better perspective of a) team basketball and b) life. Think of how much better Kobe would have been out-of-the-box if he had attended Duke for two years under coach K.

    We are happy because Kobe is on our team, but I think the NBA has a real point.

  67. I think we can win this series, and hope we do win it SO BAD.

    I really REALLY want to see Kobe win a finals MVP, i would LOVE to see him have his best series ever and top how he played in the 2001 WCF against the spurs of robinson-duncan.

    that would make my year, not just make my day, but make MY YEAR!

    I have a feeling Kobe is gonna do something special too, just like the denver series: but better. I think he really knows what it takes now to be the #1 guy for a champion, and i also think that after 3 year-round basketball years (team usa, playoff runs, etc) that he paced himself this year and those olympics and unleashed the beast in the 2nd half of the gold-medal game and in the conference finals, and is ready to do something special in these finals.

    I truly believe that, and cant wait to watch. I think he’s gonna be great, and while Lebron and Wade were putting up videogame numbers this year (that kobe has put up in the past) and carrying there teams, Kobe was sitting back and laughing, remembering when he was the one putting up videogame numbers all for naught on the route to getting knocked out in the first roudn and having to sit at home listening to all the wade-praise in 2006 or lebron-praise in 2007 when they were in the finals……

    he knew he was gonna be the one they were watching this year, and he was gonna be the one going off and getting all the praise…….. paced himself waiting for this moment and helping the team grow, thats a WINNER, and Kobe is ready to do something so special. I just know it, he’s ready.

  68. I was talking to Henry Abbott and I mentioned to him that if he wrote a positive Lakers piece, someone would intimate that it was insincere. And sure enough… :)

  69. If we lose tonights game can everyone please not freak out?

    If we do lose this series it wont be because of all the BS you will hear: “Kobe choked, phil doesnt got it no more, bynum and odom are stiffs, fisher is done, farmar or brown shouldve been starting(that might be true), pau is soft, blah blah blah, lakers dont play d, blah blah blah”

    it will be because of this: the magic were the better team and they earned it. Thats the only way we lose, because unlike last year we know what ittakes now and are going for the gold every night.

  70. Liam can we not talk about loosing yet? Positive energy is all that is allowed from now till tip off.

  71. Lakers 109 Magic 102 tonight. You heard it here first!!!

  72. #71, lakergirl: +1

    #67, Craig,
    Correct me if I am wrong (I’ve never actually played basketball, only watched) but wouldn’t one or two years add not just to simple maturity (Lebron, anyone?) but also to things like learning the fundamentals of passing, ball handling, et cetera, better than now? Very few have the skills needed to make it in NBA by the time the leave high school. NOt everyone coming out of high school and right in to the draft will be at Garnett’s or Kobe’s, or Lebron’s talent level.

  73. Paul Pierce, career PER of 21.00 (40th on list), Gail Goodrich (HOF’er) has a PER of 16.7 (188th on list). PP 22.9 career pt avg. GG 18.6.
    PP 1998-99 NBA All-Rookie (1st)
    2001-02 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
    2002-03 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
    2007-08 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
    2008-09 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
    GG 1973-74 NBA All-NBA (1st)
    GG played 14 seasons and PP only 10. I sure think PP will have at least 4 more productive years. So, I believe if Gail can get into the HOF, I surely think Pierce can as well.

  74. adam t,
    Nope. Not a coach in my spare time or as a real job. I’ve thought about it though. I do love the x’s and o’s…

  75. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    So Craig, you’re fine with a system that invites kids who have no interest, nor qualifications, in academically partcipating in college? – see derrick rose and probably all the ‘one and done’s’. This current system is inviting all kinds of below the table scumminess. Just because its a good for the NBA, doesn’t mean its a good system for the players, and colleges.

  76. so nelson’s been activated for tonight, I know he wont be 100% but it worries me a little as he really hurt us in the regulur season

  77. Coffee is for closers,
    Most players benefit from a slower high school-to-pros transition, both from a basketball perspective and from a social perspective. In fact, I think that all of them would benefit from that. Kobe would have. Whether it should be encoded or not is a different question.

  78. 54: This post by Darius is tremendous. It seems to me that the two keys points in LA’s favor are (1) the fact that this is the first team that Orlando has played in the playoffs with a real low-post threat (seriously: who has the best post moves on Phi, Boston and Cle? Perkins?). I am wondering if they might be a little rusty with their post defense and (2) Kobe’s mid-range game and the attention that needs to be paid to Pau neutralizing Howard’s help defense.

    On a second note, I’d just like to give my heartfelt congrats to everyone associated with this site. The quality of analysis here is absolutely tremendous, particularly considering that no one is getting paid to do this. No matter how this series turns out, this is a champion site.

  79. Somehow the fact that Darius doesn’t coach at any level makes me very sad. It seems criminal.

  80. #76, Coffee is For Closers,

    Call me cynical or narrow-minded, but if you’re mature and smart enough for the NBA, then you should be mature and smart enough to maintain enough of a GPA to qualify for college and to survive there for a year. Most colleges bend over in the most unnatural ways to assist their athletes and make sure that their GPA doesn’t drop too low.

    And as others have said, the socialization and emotional maturity they’d have learned there would have benefited both Garnett, Kobe, and Lebron.

  81. Burningjoe,
    Also, to back up my point as to why Paul Pierce will be a HOF’er…he currently has 18600 pts. Say he has 4 more productive years at a modest 18 pts a game and play only 70 games each season. That’s 5000 more points to add. Any player with at least 23,000 career points currently are (or will be – KB, AI and Shaq) in the HOF. I rest my case.

  82. Mimsy,
    You are exactly correct. College basketball is basically a teaching situation – the NBA is not. As a matter of fact, this one and done college rule is hurting college because the college coaches do not get enough time with players to teach them much. Still, one year is better than none.

    People seem to think they have a right to anything. Sorry, but a business does not have to hire you. You only have recourse against a business if they hired someone else and not you for a very specific set of reasons – even then it is hard to get anything.

  83. I’ve been racking my brain trying to find a team that plays similarly to the Magic.

    I’m stuck between the Spurs w/ a healthy Manu and the 93-95 Rockets. Those teams had/have a solid low post presence along with heavy reliance on 3pt shooting and strong defense.

    Of course, these Lakers never played the mid-90s Rockets, but judging by how the Lakers have played SA post-Gasol trade, I would like to see some of the tactics used in LA’s defensive gameplan against SA in this series. What do you guys think in regards to the playing styles of all 3 teams?

  84. RE: Age Rule –
    If you follow this link, you will see that the reputation of preps to pros prospects as some sort of failure has been extremely exaggerated. The majority of these guys are still playing and showing they belong in the league, as their drafting (early or not) suggested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prep-to-pro_players

    Here is a list of prepsters from the last draft (Bynum’s, 2005) players could come out of HS:

    Amir Johnson, Andrew Bynum, CJ Miles, Martell Webster, Gerald Green, Louis Williams, Monta Ellis, Andray Blatche

    Stern and the NBA had an image-problem, and they saw a way to improve that by limiting the “thugs” entering the NBA out of high school. Allow them to be nurtured in college so to have a better perception coming out.

    I don’t consider the age thing to be a rights issue necessarily. But I do have a problem with denying guys with exceptional abilities the right to play if they qualify for the job. You can vote, you can go to the army, apply for any free-enterprise job in the nation..but you can’t play professional basketball?

    Just as important though, I’m discouraged by the academic integrity that it tarnishes by a one-year rule. What does that tell them and our youth about education? I actually agree with you that I’d rather see it be two years than leave it where it’s at. But more so than either, I’d like to see the rule banished.

    If an ultra-talented kid doesn’t have the SAT scores to get into college, we force him to play in the inferior D-League making enough to hardly support himself, or make him play in Europe, isolated from his peers (or 3rd: he just cheats on his SAT, creating a storm of controversy for he and the university but the NBA doesn’t feel that backdraft, so they don’t care)..It doesn’t make sense to me and it doesn’t sit well considering the megabucks that these guys make for everyone but themselves. Just my opinion and sorry for rambling.

  85. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    exhelodrvr – my point against the age restriction has nothing to do with whether the current system makes these kids better NBA players, it likely does. I think its killing the quality of the college product. Teams don’t stay together long enough to build any kind of cohesion, especially on offense.

    This is also one of those, “laws of unintended consequences” situations. This system has exhaserbated the problems with the underground black market for players involving AAU coaches and agents. A player who has no real interest in being in school, and who knows he’ll be gone after a year, has no dis-incentive not to participate in these kinds of activities.

    I’m not an attorney, but i wonder whether the rule can be challenged based on the agreement being struck between the NBA and the players assc in collective bargaining. Non-members (under-age players) are effected, but yet have no voice in the collective bargaining process. I know maurice clarett lost his case to beat the NFL’s age rule, but I’m not sure on what basis his lawsuit was filed.

    Re: whether a business has no obligation to hire you – of course they don’t. So don’t draft the player.

    on another note, re-watching magic-cavs game 6. Cavs had absolutely no post offense whatsoever, brutal. All their offense initiated at the top of the key, almost always drive and kick. Really ugly.

  86. #69:

    In the context of what he has been writing
    about kobe, it’s difficult not to see his
    effort here as anything but insincere.

    That said, I do appreciate that he is trying
    to bring some balance to his writing
    after being pilloried by Laker fans everywhere (a tip of the bowler to Dex,
    here).

  87. Kobe.

    Show us, Kobe.

    Show the world what we as Laker fans have seen in glimpses and even prolonged stretches through the last several years. Show them that it has all come together for this: #4 for you, #10 for Phil, #15 for us.

    Everyone attending the game, be LOUD. Everyone not attending, be LOUD anyway!

    Go Lakers!

  88. Other than that, the subplot that interests me most is seeing the Lakers earn the title, should they win it. Since I rate them the better team and picked them to win, I root for the drama of seeing them fall behind in the series so we can see them sweat and rise to a challenge. And if that is the Lakers team Orlando manages to beat for the championship, this would be a classic Finals.

  89. bryanS (87): I don’t *know* that it’s sincere, but it seems rather presumptuous to assume it’s insincere. Honestly, it makes some Lakers fans seem thin-skinned in the extreme. I am a big, big Kobe fan, and I have read pretty much all Lakers-related material on TrueHoop (some of which I disagree with quite strongly, such as the Ariza article, and Henry knows it), and I had no trouble at all seeing the post as something besides insincere.

    I’m pretty sure that being pilloried by Dex or anybody else had precious little to do with him writing that piece, but it probably had something to do with him (and many other non-Lakers fans) thinking that some of the Lakers fanbase is a little nutty. I understand that most Lakers fans are not like that at all, but it still adds to the perception.

  90. Oops, bryanS became #88 instead of #87. But while I’m on the subject…

    Coffee (87): Their offense was that brutally unimaginative even when they won. LeBron was just crazy good enough to make that work in those games. Frankly, I think they need an offensive coordinator of some sort, but as a Lakers fan, I hope they never get one.

  91. The following statement will have very little substance but a lot of heart.

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

    I am super pumped about this game and series.

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

  92. Coffee is For Closers June 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    brian, in their defense, who could they post up? Even Lebron has no post up game.

  93. #85. AFB,
    Luke Walton said it best when he compared this Magic team to the Sun’s teams under D’Antoni.

    And while they don’t play a SSOL style with their tempo, they do use very similar sets in the half court. The players/skill sets don’t match up perfectly, but the scheme is pretty similar – A ton of P&R, a ball handler that is a good passer and shooter that must be respected, other shooters spreading the floor, and a big man that is a terror rolling to the basket. So while this Orlando team doesn’t have a Nash or Marion or STAT, they do have a Hedo and Lewis and Howard. The rest of the guys are filler. What makes this Orlando team better is their commitment to defense and having Howard controlling the paint/glass on defense whereas the Suns only had STAT (who is just not the same caliber defender nor as big a body). They also don’t have Nash defending PG’s and have versatility in both forwards where the Suns only had that versatility in Marion (who really had defensive versatility, where Hedo/Lewis have defensive and offensive versatility). This is another reason why I think Phil may have some good insights into dealing with this Orlando team. He may just give Hedo the “Nash treatment” and make him the scorer while trying to completely take away his playmaking in the high P&R.

  94. ESPN is saying that Nelson WILL be activated for Game 1. Whether or not he’ll play or it’s a mind game (my guess is leaning towards the latter) is in question.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4231546

  95. One thing I’ve learned throughout the NBA playoffs is that pro basketball is in need of the Truth.

    With that in mind, I present to you a Finals version of NBA Truths that will, among other things, explain to you why I believe the Orlando Magic will be crowned NBA champions … in six games.

    Latest from Whitlock
    Cuban crisis: Mark Cuban dissed a player’s mama, and David Stern doesn’t even slap his wrist. Where’s the justice? That’s bull: After she went all Al Sharpton on Duke lacrosse, can we really trust Selena Roberts and her A-Rod book? NFL draft: Why are we so hooked on the NFL? It all starts with the draft and the one thing it offers that no other sport can.
    Complete Jason Whitlock archive

    10. Dwight Howard is a modern-day Bill Russell.

    You will really see the similarities between Howard and Russell in this series because the referees will actually allow Howard to play defense now that LeBron James has been eliminated.

    Because of the way James is pampered, Howard was reduced to standing in the lane with his arms raised during the Eastern Conference finals. He couldn’t contest shots and dominate the lane because the refs had a secret handshake deal to send King James to the line 20 times a game during the first five games.

    Free to roam and attack, look for Howard to annihilate Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. I expect one triple double from Howard — 20 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks.

    Howard’s rebounding prowess powers Orlando’s defense. Initially I was frustrated by Stan Van Gundy’s offensive strategy that turns Howard into Rambo (one-man army) on the offensive glass. But then I realized the scheme stopped the Cavaliers from getting easy transition baskets. It forced Mo Williams and Delonte West to get all of their offense in half-court sets.

    9. Phil Jackson is awesome at managing egos and so-so at in-game strategy. Van Gundy will out-coach the Zen Master.

    Larry Brown puts a clown suit on Jackson nearly every time the two square off. Jackson’s triangle works well. But is there an offense that wouldn’t work with Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan on the floor?

    Van Gundy’s European, spread-the-floor, drive-and-kick style of play is superior. Yes, for a moment, the Magic offense ignored Howard. But that’s over. Howard knocked down free throws and did a marvelous job pitching the ball to open shooters in the Cleveland series.”

    I dont even know where to start. I so strongly disagree with that statement and sentiment, it is just insanity. For real.

    What about Phil’s defenses being top-10 for over 2 decades now? What about his whole identity-building prowess? In that he builds a team’s identity around its talent and doesnt force square pegs into round hole’s (like larry brown does, see new york knicks, or this years bobcats that were built to run and he tried to turn into the “playtherightway pistons”.)

    Phil built this years team into a version of the 1975 Golden State Warriors. He was the first coach ever to build a champion out of a team led by a 2guard. he built the 2000 lakers of “knock-down dragout” lowpost basketball and our defense built on shaq in the middle and forcing the opponent into his shotblocking prowess

    he built the bulls defense on pippen and rodman/grant and jordan roaming like wild dobermans and attacking the opponents offense, forcing turnovers, gang rebounding and running off that, attack attack attack, and then triple-post built around jordan

    what about last eyars team that he built as a power team around kobe and bynum and then switched to a finesse team around kobe and gasol that was uptempo and run-run-run?

    and the way he switched it back up this year and built it to 65 wins and being the best it can be, despite only having one guy that can create his own offense in the entire starting lineup besides kobe (gasol)?

    Phil deserves a LOT more credit than just “managing ego’s”, that is just INSANITY man. The Bulls never would have won a ring without him, and our shaq-kobe teams wouldnt have either

    and this team DEFINITELY wouldnt without him, just as last years team wouldnt have been nin the finals

    and in 2006 we definitely wouldnt have made the playoffs without phil coaching, we had a GOOD DEAL more talent the year before and only won 34 games, that team had Kobe too, remember whitlock? And that was coached by a GREAT coach in Rudy T, a champion.

    STFU and GTFO: Whitlock

  96. SVG is a very good coach. He actually reminds me of Phil in how he devises a style/identity for his personnel and puts them in position to succeed and maximize their potential.

    He can win 59 games around Dwyane Wade and Shaq grind-it-out type of team built around them and roleplayers, or he can win 59 games and get to the finals with Dwight and 4 perimeter guys (who else wouldve done that? There are maybe 5 coaches in this universe, eveyrone else wouldve had turkoglu off the bench behind rashard and had tony battie starting at PF)

    For real man, SVG reminds me of phil in that. He just gets it, how to get the most out of his personnel and build them to thrive.

  97. adam t, coffee and others:

    While I still maintain, and will continue to maintain, that most players would be better off if they spend some time learning in college, not just basketball but for the socialization process and additional maturity it would have brought them, the current system that forces everyone to play a year, whether they want to or not, is not the way to make that happen.

    Good intentions, perhaps, but the execution and implementation of them clearly is not working.

    Now, back to more fun stuff: GO LAKERS!!! :D

    Wishlist for tonight, in no particular order:

    * Mbenga minutes! I don’t care if he fouls out after five minutes or less, but hes big and strong enough to push Howard around. Plus, he’s fun to watch.

    * The Lamar Odom that played in Game 5 against Denver.

    * The Pau Gasol that crushed the Celtics in the regular season.

    * The deadliest Kobe of all, the surgically passing, mid-range shooting, “double-team me, please, you losers” Mamaba with the assassin’s instincts for weaknesses and blood.

    * A crowd that makes Staples Center feel like the Boston Gardens when the Magic walks on the floor.

    * Standing ovations from Jack. :)

    * Bynum dominating Howard on the defensive end. And at least one dunk over him.

    * Trevor Ariza rub his new-found 3-point shooting in Orlando’s face. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…

    * Focus, execution, poise, and professionalism from the entire team.

    We’re in the Finals again! It’s finally game night! WHEEEE!

  98. Snoopy you beat me to it. I am currently watching SVGs presser from earlier today and he is talking about Nelson. It all seems like mind games to me. Think about it they deactivated Ty Lue to make room for him. Lue was never going to play anyway.

    However i like how the lakers are handling it; saying they are not concerned about the personel but the position. Hearing Phil say the team is as prepared as can be made my night. Lets go get em lakers!!

  99. 98 . That was me – lakergirl

  100. Preps to pros –
    It is not the success rate in the NBA that determines anything and it is not a rights question because GMs will draft a player. It is the NBA, as a single business manager, not a group of independent businesses, and its relationship with its employees (CBA) that draws up the rules. If you don’t like the rules, then you have every right to start your own league.

    The NBA isn’t, and doesn’t want to be, in the business of developing players. That function is for the colleges and the developmental league. Development means a) basketball skills (the only thing most great high school players have), b) social skills in an adult world, c) some concept of a team game (lost on most very young players).

    Look at all great coaches. They may develop individuals, but only as a corollary to great teams. Under great coaches players learn the rules and concepts of team basketball.

  101. Van Gundy doing pre-game presser. Clearly stated that his PG rotation will be Alston and Nelson.

  102. This is a team we should give all respect to. Remember, to get here they have defeated two (2) sixty-win teams and are now playing a third. This is not going to be an easy series, but I have faith in the focus and will of Phil, Kobe, and Fish and their ability to up the level of all their teammates.

  103. KG Ray and Pierce are all hall of famers, easy.

    Hey yo: Orlando against Boston doubleteamed Pierce the whole series as soon as he caught the ball pretty much, no matter where he was at.

    But against Cleveland they didnt double Lebron at all, and against the Heat and Lakers this season they didnt double Kobe or Wade.

    So do they think Pierce is the best of the 4 or something (clearly he’s the worst of the 4)? Or do they think Pierce has the least dangerous supporting cast? (the HEAT supporitng cast?!?! LOL)

    Neither case seems to make sense, so is it just something as simple as being able to double off Rondo whereas both Cleveland and Miami and LA doesnt have a shooter as weak as Rondo in their perimeter starting spots around the superstar (Chalmers-Moon both shoot the 3 pretty well, Fisher-Ariza and Delonte-Mo obviously can light it up from outside if left open)?

    They DID double off Rondo on every single occasion, and never doubled off anyone but Rondo. Is that the case, something that simple? And wouldnt you think Doc Rivers would notice this and adjust, just put in Eddie House instead of Rondo to allow his star and most important player to get off?

    Just odd to see how they did that to Paul Pierce when you would think he was the worst of the 4 and many would argue he had the best supporting cast of the 4, and then let Wade (who everyone doubles, especially in the fourth quarter, his supporting cast is terrible and he was going OFF this year), Lebron and Kobe go one-on-one. Very odd.

  104. 97 – Actually SVG reminds me more of Pat Riley in that regard. I agree, he’s a top-notch coach, truly elite. Riley was one of the first to be successful with fastbreak and then grind-it-out style teams. SVG, like his mentor, is equally capable of adapting his system to match the personnel. Phil doesn’t do that so much. He has a fixed system, and he gets players that fit that system or helps mold players to that system. I guess he’s adapted a bit more by letting this team freelance out of the triangle, but it’s not really a drastic style change like Riley.

  105. Let’s unleash the ShanWOW on Nelson.

  106. #
    Coffee is For Closers wrote on June 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    brian, in their defense, who could they post up? Even Lebron has no post up game.

    They posted up Big Z all year, and the first two rounds of the playoffs (and the past 8 seasons), but the gameplan against the magic was to pull Z out to near the 3pt line to pull Howard out of the paint

    didnt work

  107. adam t: I agree with you on the age limit. I think it only creates more hypocrisy and corruption in the college game. I think we should *encourage* kids to go to college to hone their skills and to get an education to be more well rounded individuals, but at the same time I believe in individual choice and I don’t see why very exceptionally talented kids should be held back and not allowed to make the most of their earning potential. What the league needs is more emphasis on mentoring programs where these 18 and 19 yos can learn life lessons on how to cope with the sudden money, fame, and pressure thrust upon them.

  108. I know Lakergirl, and i got love for ya for that

  109. pregame show about to start, im about to go to the other room to watch on HD, see ya guys at halftime.

  110. Okay Steve, unfair! Some of us are still at work! :(

  111. Could Simers be anymore annoying. Dude is out to distract Phil before a huge game, I’d love to see Phil just ignore the rest of that guys questions.

  112. Coffee (94): Well, I would say they need to develop one. Kobe did not come into the league with a post-up game; his rookie and second-year minutes were mostly filled with drive-into-a-crowd plays. He flirted with it once they started their championship run, but I don’t think he really exercised it until Shaq left.

    If LeBron had a post-up game, his teammates would have gotten better three-point shots. I think the effect of the Orlando length was underestimated; Cleveland has good shooters but neither Mo nor Delonte are blessed with exceptional height.

    Liam (103): I think Rivers was well aware they were doubling off Rondo, but the problem with subbing in House is that House is not as good a defender as Rondo, and doesn’t run the offense as well, either. There are going to be times when even with single coverage you can’t just dump it into Pierce each and every time. Overall I think the Celtics lose more with that sub than they gain, so they should do it only to mix things up and to give Rondo some rest, rather than as a strategic matter to give Pierce more room to operate.

    As far as your question of why they double Pierce and not the others, I think that Pierce is not as good as the others at dribbling/passing his way out of a double team. Not to say he isn’t good–he is–but just not as good. So the double affects him more. That’s my guess on that strategy, though it’s based on my seeing Pierce only a handful of times per year.

    I’m very curious to see how Orlando defends Kobe and Gasol. I think the triangle gives the Lakers more flexibility in responding to the style of defense played by Orlando (provided the Lakers are properly perceptive) than Orlando’s offense affords against the Lakers. In my opinion, what happens when Orlando has the ball comes down almost wholly to execution.

  113. kwame a (109): I wouldn’t take most things that Simers writes at face value.

  114. Hey it seems that the game won’t be on Espn360. Anyone got a internet link to the game? Thanks

  115. Liam, I’m guessing they did that to Pierce because his dribble ain’t that great. But that’s just speculation.

  116. Brian- I know that bro, I was just watching him question Phil at the pre-game presser. You could tell Phil was trying to keep his composure, but a few expletives may fly his way if he keeps pressing the rest of these playoffs (which is of course Simers whole objective)

  117. kwame a (114): Wow. You just used “Simers” and “objective” in close proximity in a sentence.

    Wow. I bow down to your superior wordcraft.

  118. I’m waiting for Simers to be so annoying and off topic that the TV people pull his credentials. It really could happen if he gets too far out.

  119. Lebron fined $25,000 big ones for missing the press SAT.

  120. Oh man. I’m so hyped up

  121. The Dude Abides June 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Awesome…little Dez is bugging Lebron muppet about if they can call Kobe after the game :D

  122. Been watching game 2 from 84-85 finals to get myself ready for this. GO LAKERS!!!!

  123. Does anyone really think spending one year at college (for the sole purpose of getting into the NBA) is going to make an appreciable difference in a player’s social development? I get the basketball side of it, but come on now…

  124. Why must work and meetings interfere with game 1 of the NBA finals?! Keeping my phone on to keep receiving updates on the game.

    This is it!

  125. New game chat thread up.

    Go Lakers.

  126. Free at last! Home at last! Game time! Hyper!

    Okay, okay. I’ll lay off the sugar.

    In other news, the bottom of my TV screen is blinking “SEVERE thunder storm warning” for several counties in the state, among them mine. It’s started already…!

    Does anyone know what kind of animal you sacrifice to the thunder gods when you pray for mercy for your satellite dish?

  127. Gosh i’m nervous

  128. HERE WE GO!

  129. The Dude Abides June 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Ugh…let Skip shoot that shot, Trevor. Don’t leave Turk open at the arc.

  130. why is ariza playing turkoglu so tight?

  131. great start for Drew. Exactly what we need on both ends.

  132. Kwame,
    I like Ariza up in Hedo so far. Make him work for his shot, but make him the shooter. Hedo thrives when players go under the screen because he can measure that jumper better. So I’m with Trevor playing in his jersey – as long as he doesn’t foul.

    I like what we’re doing with Dwight on both ends. Pushing him out and making him attack off the dribble and then going at him with post moves. Also, making him a helper like on the Kobe drive and the Gasol post up on Lewis. Drew is looking motivated too.

  133. LO-please dont make Reed true on this one, I need you to be focused

  134. guess it was sasha

  135. these commentators hate the lakers, bottom line is bynum may take a bad foul here and there but he has been able to play howard straight up, if you can play howard straight up there goes the magics game plan.

  136. bs van gundy, howard does not require a double team.

  137. good first half. Lakers were able to neutralize Lewis and even though Nelson played well, we outplayed them at the PG too. Kobe took a lotta shots, but it seemed that he found his range, and that bodes well for the second half.

    Gasol needs to catch that pass with two hands when the Magic front him, and he has to attempt to dunk it.