Lakers/Magic Game 5 Preview

Kurt —  June 14, 2009

Finals
I know there are a few out there in Lakerland that expect the Magic to roll over in game 5, but that is not going to happen. First, that is not the Magic’s personality — they are scrappers. Second, nobody wants to lose it on their home court. Remember the Lakers in game 5 last year (after blowing a big lead). The Magic will play their best game of the year.

That’s not to say the Lakers don’t have some advantages. That starts with the coaches, and as much as I like Stan Van Gundy and think he’s been great for the Magic I think Bill Bridges has hit the nail on the head with what has been the slim margin of difference in this series.

Petr?ska Clarkson coined the term Achilles syndrome in her 1994 book where she focuses on the story of Achilles as an allusion describing a psychological syndrome where a person may externally perform competently, however, does not internally believe that he or she is competent for the task, job, position, or activity. Behavior driven from fear of failure results from lack of core confidence. Game 4 showed the contrast between the philosophies of Phil Jackson and Steve Van Gundy. Fisher had been struggling for the past 2 months. For the game he was 0 -5 from 3, yet Phil Jackson understands that the true essence of a man is the most important of all. Trust in Fisher’s character allows Jackson to let go the fear and give Fisher the chance to succeed. On the other hand, SVG’s actions are driven by fear. Why did Nelson play the last 18 minutes instead of Alston? “Well he wasn’t really hurting us out there”. He wasn’t helping you win either. The fear that Alston might fail to deliver dictated SVG’s tactics and in the end had Nelson and all of his 5’10” height closing out on Fisher.

Why didn’t they foul right away? The fear that the Magic players would choke the free throws dictated tactics. They should have fouled right away and SVG should have trusted their abilities to make foul shots. But SVG didn’t. Phil Jackson is open to the potential of success but not afraid of failure, and therefore allows his players to just play. SVG is consumed by fear, infuses doubt in his players, and it cost him the game.

At this point in a series there are not a lot of surprises in strategy, but there are a few Xs and Os things to look for in this game.

• As David Thorpe and Mike Moreau have pointed out all series long, when the Lakers have been aggressive on defending the screen and roll, Orlando has struggled to make the play. When the Lakers are the least big passive, you get the first half of game four. The Lakers must be aggressive, it’s more a mental thing than a physical one.

• The Lakers must continue to limit the Orlando transition opportunities.

• Pau Gasol must continue to play well in the paint against Dwight Howard. In this series Gasol has 46 point sin the paint on 62.2% shooting, Howard has 32 points on 48.5% shooting.

• The Lakers must continue to do a good job contesting jumpers — the Magic have shot 32.9% on jumpers in their losses, 59.7% in their wins. That has to start with keeping Rashard Lewis under wraps.

But more than the Xs and Os, the Lakers cannot revert to their Jekyll and Hyde nature — they have to come out focused and playing hard. If they come out thinking they have two more games to win this at home, Orlando will make them pay.

Kurt

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26 responses to Lakers/Magic Game 5 Preview

  1. This is for Warren…

  2. Seven endless years.
    Feed Pau, Cut, Look, Be Patient
    Confetti on Fig.

  3. Pietrus on his foul on Gasol.
    ‘I think I was going for the ball. I don’t think I was trying to make a dirty play. I’m smart enough with three seconds to go and they’re up 10, why am I going to get a hard foul. No, I was trying to make sure he was going to the free-throw line”

    Since when is a two hand push in the back going for the ball? Piertus did accomlish one goal. Gasol did get two free-throws

    GO LAKERS bring home the title tonight

  4. I look for Kobe to explode in this game… I do not think he will try to take all the scoring load, but look for him to be very efficient. He will definitely shoot around 50% and also go to the line. I also expect him to have a big box score night with something like 35 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block or two. I do not think he will have many turnovers…

  5. thanks sT! …
    I put that in for Warren as comment #1 for game 4, and … well, need I say more? glad you’re around long enough to know the tradition.

    as far as today’s game, man I just don’t know.
    on one hand, I want to get it over with NOW, and win this damn thing!
    on the other hand, win today, and there’s no more Lakers basketball for what, like 5 months???
    (except for the few recent games I didn’t delete and will watch and savor off and on through the summer.
    oh well, it’ll be good for all of our relationships, (unless like in my lucky case, my wife is also a huge Lakers fan!) cause we’ll have more family time for a while after this run.
    what to do??
    I say, win it today! we’ll find a way to get by til next fall.
    as you say Kurt, it’s going to be very difficult to put this Magic team away at home for their last home game of the season, and especially knowing that we have 3 chances to get 1.
    but, if we’re close at half time, and close at the end of the game, I think that’s where our experience will benefit us and we’ll pull out the W for the ring baby!

  6. Finish Them.

    – I’ve got my viewing party plans in Venice, right by the beach and with a hoop for halftime (why didn’t Staples do Away game viewing parties this year?).

    – I’ve got enough GUNDY bingo forms printed out to entertain until the game starts and they all just become future confetti.

    – I’ve got all the free Laker t-shirts that’ve been handed out at games over the last seven years. Gonna hand em out to the the less-decked-out fans at the party to wear or wave, I won’t need ‘em after this season, just a new “Champions” tee to add to my unworn collection of three.

    – I’ve got at least two bottle of CHAMPagne, for now on ice… not for long though.

    – I’ve got my tickets for game 6 in case all this is premature. Either way, it’s inevitable.

    Go Lakers!

  7. I want the lakers to win tonight. I know its nice to win on your home court. This is the midset that the 2000 Lakers had when they came out flat in game 5 against the pacers. But a team can win 3 in a row. I know the Lakers have not lost 3 in a row since they acquired Gasol, but the 2000 Lakers did not lose 3 in a row all year long and Portland almost came back from a 3-1 deficit to win that series. It took a miraculous 16 pt come back in the 4th quarter for the Lakers to eventually win (I almost turned that game off at the end of the 3rd qtr, I am glad I didn’t).

  8. j. d. hastings June 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I fully expect the Magic to come out with fire in their eyes and maybe land a few punches early. I just hope the Lakers have learned enough over this postseason to weather the storm, stay solid and execute. As the game goes on, then hopefully the magnitude sets in for the magic and they fade late.

    LET’S GO LAKERS

  9. I am hoping that the Lakers are as disciplined and focused as they were in Game Six against Denver. Everyone expected that to go to Game Seven, but the Lakers had other ideas.

  10. Any thoughts on how the Lakers will choose to play Dwight today? I’m hoping they will single-team early and stay home on the shooters, to keep the other guys from warming up. Dwight is getting better at passing off of one dribble, especially when the help comes part way to dig at the ball.

    In the 4th, I like the aggressive double or triple team on the dribble because as Dwight gets tired, his ball handling really drops off and so does his FT shooting.

  11. Anyone hear about the trade rumors of Shaq to Cleveland???

  12. I guess I can understand that point, but I’m a bit skeptical of playing armchair psychologist. Too much of this is based on results and revisionist history. Saying Nelson wasn’t helping them win, the same argument could have been made for Fisher in other any game the last 2 rounds. Now if Nelson hits a game winner tonight, do we laud Stan for having the faith to play his star PG even through struggles, the way Phil did with Fish?

    Decisions are always easier to judge in hindsight, and can lead to skewed perceptions. I do agree with the fear leading to not fouling.

  13. Hopefully this isn’t getting too much into speculation, but the idea of legitimate post presence with Lebron is a bit daunting. Not scary, but definitely attention-worthy. Like Travis said about Bynum, a similar point can be made about Shaq – his production this season still makes him one of the better centers in the league.

    The most interesting question to me – how big of a factor does the Suns training staff play? When Shaq got to Phx, he claimed it was the Suns training staff that had rejuvenated his career and slammed the Heat staff. You can’t deny the work they’ve done with Nash and Hill too. If Shaq no longer has that training staff, can he stay healthy over an 82-game haul, or is that storyline overrated?

  14. I’m going to have to DVR the game with a commitment tonight that can’t be avoided. But I’ll take a win that I watch after the fact any day…

    With the goal so close, we must not allow the Magic to move the finish line. It’s easy to think that being up 3-1 allows room for error – but this is a fickle game and one step in the right direction for the team that’s down can build momentum. So, I hope to close the series tonight. This isn’t to say that we’re not in control, but it is to say that when you have the upper hand, you don’t want to give the other guy the chance to find his stride.

    So, in that spirit, a couple of things that Kurt didn’t mention:

    *One game where a secondary player not named Ariza, Fish, Odom (or Farmar who has had his moments) makes some shots. It’s obvious that we can win games without Sasha making shots, but wouldn’t it be nice if he did? Just this once? Is it asking too much? If I ask nice? Please? We could use that extra cushion of Kobe’s backup actually playing at a replacement level, rather than looking like Sun Yue did during the season. I’d also like to see Luke get a couple of buckets. Walton has been playing well, but I just have the feeling that we’ll need the points tonight. There will be moments where Luke can get those same matchups that he saw in game one. I’d like to see him get some of those minutes when Hedo/Lewis are not playing SF.

    *Make Lewis the disappearing man again. You know that he’ll be looking to erase his last performance and he is a real difference maker for them. Bottle him up and it will go a long way in securing the win. Run him off the three point line. Stick with him when he rotates up to the top of the key on their P&R. When he’s the screener, switch the screen when appropriate. We can win if Hedo and Howard have their typical output. But it will be truly difficult if Lewis joins that group.

    *More movement from Kobe off the ball. Let’s get him coming off some screens. Let’s get him moving to strong side off the ball at the same time that the ball reverses. Let’s get some high/low action with Kobe posting and Gasol at the FT line. We could really use an efficient game from #24. I know he’ll be ready to leave it all on the floor, but here’s hoping that he doesn’t have to exhaust himself to get his.

    *One iconic performance from Pau. He’s been so good this series – so I don’t want it to come off like he needs to step up. He has been stepping up. But I’m talking one of those Big Game James performances that we’ve seen him pull of at different times this season. How about 20 points and 17 rebounds? How about 2-3 blocks? How about one of those games where he looks like the best player on the floor for stretches at a time. He has it in him. One more time, Pau. One more time.

  15. BTW, RE: Shaq to Cleveland.

    One of the reasons that this deal made sense during the regular season was Zoolander’s expiring deal. His 11 mil would have been a big chunk of salary that made the deal work financially for both teams. Now that Wally can’t be included, who would the Cavs give up in a deal to acquire the Shaq? Have to make the salaries work…

    Also, if I was Cleveland, I’d be taking a note from last year’s Lakers. No need to completely overhaul a team that’s as good as the Cavs are. The fact is, just like the Lakers last season, the Cavs were depending on 2-3 players that had never even experienced a deep run into the playoffs. It takes a truly special talent to be able to overcome not being there before and still excel. Williams and West should be better with their experience gained from this season.

    Also, if I was Cleveland, I’d be looking for value players that could add to this team – not a Shaq type player that is going to command all that attention and raise expectations even higher. Why not just look for a bigger wing that can play some D and another post player that can score some inside and defend some of the better Bigs in the NBA? If I was Cleveland, I’d be looking into signing Matt Barnes and Rasheed Wallace, not making a trade for Shaq. But that’s just me. Wallace has traditionally done well against the Duncan/Howard/Gasol’s of the world and Barnes is a scrapper and tough minded defender that can hit the 3 with *some* consistency.

  16. Rewatching game 4 on 601. Looking out for the next Mark J cliché.

    Meanwhile –

    “You gotta and compete.”

    1. Leave it on the floor
    2. Just come out
    3. Push through that
    4. Tie down your neighbor

  17. Here’s hoping that LO plays the game of his life and cements the necessity for the Lakers to retain his contract. Just in case, though, Lamar Odom, I for one wish to thank you! Thank you, for being a man and a warrior in the starting lineup or coming in off the bench.

    Lamar Odom, I love you!! Hope to see your candy eating, butt on the floor in purple and gold for the 2009-2010 season!

  18. Regardless of his stats, Bynum does seem to bother Howard down low, when he plays him 1-on-1. Since this is our starting lineup, I really hope Andrew can stay on Howard for most of the 1st period and some of the 2nd. That way we can single cover him and stay with Lewis and the other shooters.

  19. If I were Kareem, I’d tell Drew that I want him to get 3 fouls in the first half. But all offensive fouls going against Howard. Take it strong into Howard’s chest. Howard doesn’t take charges and would change the aggressor/aggressee pattern.

  20. 19 I agree Bynum does bother him. I just hope everyone comes out with an all out effort for the chip.

  21. Haven’t read all of it yet but Mark Madsen has a post up on Phil, with some insight into Phil as a coach from a player’s standpoint and some good anecdotes:

    http://markmadsen.com/blog/PermaLink,guid,4c0233b3-d3cc-476c-a856-cac77ebeb823.aspx

  22. As long as the Lakers find a way to stay in the game and keep it under double digits, they got a great chance to win. Also, I think we have to see smething better from Kobe, he is just due for a big game. This is the game I have waited for since the end of last years finals haha.

  23. Already getting started on my post-championship Kobe article. That’s how good I feel about tonight.

  24. Just 2 words:

    P A U G A S O L

  25. Game Chat post up.

  26. I’ve got my gold FB&G T on, it got us here, right?