Lakers/Magic Game 5 Preview

Kurt —  June 14, 2009

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.