Game One Thursday in some ways reminded me of Game One a year ago — one team, the more experienced veteran team, came out with a much higher level of energy and execution on the biggest stage, while the other team looked overwhelmed by the moment. It’s just that this year the roles were reversed — it was a veteran Lakers team that played a far more intense brand of basketball.
That is maybe the main thing that will not carry over to game two. Orlando will come back with a game more reminiscent of what they did against Cleveland, one with plenty of energy. And quicker decisions by the guy handling the ball, less hesitation. That alone is going to make this a closer game.
Other things I think you can look for:
• Orlando is going to try harder to establish Howard at the start of the game. He didn’t whine after this game he didn’t get enough touches, but he shouldn’t have to. The Magic offense runs inside out.
• To add to that, the Magic ballhandlers will attack the paint and rim as well. Darius explains:
Too often, the Magic found themselves on the wing trying to attack our defense. Every scouting report out there says that trying to come at us from the wing is the wrong move because our length and quickness will force you into areas where you’ll struggle to be effective. How many times did Hedo run the P&R towards the wing? How many times did he find himself with little to no real estate along the baseline? On the flip side of that, when Nelson first came into the game, he did a much better job of getting to the middle and creating looks for his mates. If you look at the Denver series, that’s what worked against us as well (with Billups in the P&R and in isolations). Because Orlando is primarily a P&R team, they should continue to run it, but be smarter with where they try to initiate from. Too many times Hedo was catching the ball too close to the hash mark and Ariza did a brilliant job of shading him in a manner that dictated where the play would go and how it would develop. Hedo’s got to catch the ball almost straight away and force us to defend this play in the middle of the floor. This will give Hedo the best opportunity to get into open areas and allow the Magic to space the floor much better.
• The Magic learned a hard lesson about letting Kobe get to the spots he wants off the floor on the pick and roll. Overall, Orlando played a fairly relaxed defense and they will not in game 2. Again some Darius:
Kobe was way too comfortable. After Houston and Denver, he must have felt like he was on vacation. I know they contested his shots, but where was the holding and grabbing and pushing and elbowing off the ball? Where was the physical play that the East is known for? Where were the hard fouls? If they happened, I must have missed them. Also, Howard needs to decide to make an impact. He’s the DPOY, but he was relatively invisible on that end. He came late on his rotations on the P&R and on dribble penetration. He needs to intimidate and contest every shot that is within 5 ft of him. Make the Lakers second guess anytime they see him in their peripheral vision. Essentially, make your presence felt. He didn’t do it and the Lakers dominated their defense.
• Notice the last two posts were really about what the Magic need to do — in a series it is the losing team that almost always is the one that has to make the adjustments. What matters for the Lakers is how they counter those adjustments. My suggestion — run the triangle’s traditional sets. Yes, technically the P&R the Lakers ran last game is within the offense, but now they need to get back to more traditional sets, like getting the ball to Gasol in the high post and having cutters flying around him. Quick ball movement.
• Game two is going to be a lot more physical. If the Lakers of the end of the Denver series show up and match that, they will be fine. If they do not, things will not be as confident in Lakerland on Monday.
Don W says
Great points. A couple questions:
1. How do we counter their PnR from the middle?
2. It seemed like last game our triangle wasn’t working. Were we just not executing or are they good at stopping it?
The concerns for the Magic were huge gaping holes in their gameplan, which should mean it will be easier to anticipate what facets of the game they will make adjustments to, and be ready to counter.
And with the energy and more aggressive PnR D, I wouldn’t be surprised if DH got into foul trouble early. I also expect us to match their intensity level, given the level of maturity and poise we’ve shown on the highest stages. Adjustments can only go so far. We fundamentally have different personnel that they cannot exploit as well as those of previous series.
T Bone says
Excellent analysis, as always. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Lakers defend the middle PnR. Forcing the ball away from the screen is tougher to do in the middle of the floor. Jamming the screener and going under is an option v. Nelson until he proves he can knock down the long J. Trapping the ball and rotating to the roller is an option, especially with the Gasol and Bynum front line.
I’m not taking too much from the game 1 margin of victory. Dominating game 1s at home hasn’t always portended easy series. I remember the 1986 WCF when the Lakers dominated Houston in game 1, then got overwhelmed by the Sampson/Dream twin towers in game 2. Same with Utah in 1988 WC Semis. After getting blown out in game 1, Frank Layden said his team had two chances to win game 2- Slim and None, and Slim left the building. Utah won game 2 and forced a 7 game series. The Lakers handled the Sixers in game 1 of the 1980 Finals, then lost game game 2 107-104.
Here’s hoping we see a more balanced offense (like games 5 and 6 v. Denver) tonight with the same rebounding domination. Like Pat Riley said in the 1982 championship run, “No rebounds, no rings”.
Congrats to Federer. Well deserved win for the best ever. He deserved that one.
Nice shout out to Roger for getting it done there. Wasn’t sure many people would wake up for that.
I keep reading that the magic are going to adjust to the laker pick and roll (when we run it), but as far as I can tell that just means that Howard is going to have to take away kobe’s jumper by showing, which means: Kobe’s going to have to find people, and the magic’s interior defense + defensive rebounding is going to be off in no-man’s land guarding kobe’s mid range j.
Is that about right? Doesn’t this mean they’re going to have to consider having both their big guys out there for stretches?
we want tacos says
No love for Roger here. He is the best to do it but, he can’t beat nadal on clay.
I was never a Federer fan, until I read this article by David Foster Wallace.
One of the best, writing about one of the best.
Congrats to Federer.
Seriously, how spoiled are we? Federer, Tiger, Kobe/LeBron. Our generation is certainly getting it’s share of legends to watch in awe and roar in support of.
Kurt: As a swede I will have to say Söderling would’ve deserved it equally as much, although I’m clearly bias on this. Federer is by far the best in the sport since Björn Borg in my opinion (again with the bias) but Söderling played a heck of a tournament, as Nadal would agree.
Anywho, I just want to show my appreciation for the website as an international Lakers fan. The insight displayed here is truly great, and it really enhances the experience of following this basketball team through out a season.
Keep up the good work and let’s see if we can’t bring home that trophy this year!
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe we haven’t lost all year while wearing the Sunday whites. Here’s hoping that trend continues!
All roads lead to Odom and Bynum with this team. They had 23 boards between them in Game 1. Part of that was Orl shooting .299 but part of it wasn’t. If the trend continues, SVG may have to go with Howard and Gortat together more, but like I said earlier and people implied: Orlando plays without a 4. They get away with it when Howard gets 15-20 boards and they knock down a ton of 3s. The Lakers have Gasol, Odom and a big center and they exploited all those matchups in Game 1.
In Game 2, I think the Magic’s main adjustments will be:
1. Endless attack of Laker bigs to try to get fouls. One thing the Lakers will need to do is occasionally just let Howard dunk. They obviously were under instructions not to do that in G1, to hack him and put him on the stripe, and in the press conference, Phil noted that Howard got no dunks. I am not sure that will work again.
2. More doubles on Kobe at the elbow area to make him give up the ball.
3. More floor time for Nelson–SVG, amazingly, got on Nelson’s case a little in the post-game talk, but I think, as with the “Nelson won’t play” stuff, they are playing possum.
4. Lewis using his quickness to try to get inside instead of always setting up for the triple.
Other than that, they just have to hit more shots and they will. The key is whether they are at 46-47% or 41-42%. I think the Lakers will score around 100 again.
This is a good matchup for Luke Walton, as we saw. I think he will continue to contribute.
Fisher was 4/6. That probably won’t happen again.
Orlando can reset their D but they’ve got issues on offense. Their shooters aren’t used to wing defenders that can run them off the 3 or get over the top of those picks.
And having Jameer come back has totally screwed up their rotations. Alston’s gotta be pissed about sitting the whole 2nd quarter. SVG even started experimenting with Gortat and Dwight on the floor together.
It’s only one game but that team’s a mess.
I agree with everything said. I think we all know how big this game is. We must take care of business tonight and begin to suffocate them. I think the lakers know this now. If we head to orlando tied 1-1 with 3 games there – the magic will have 100X as much confidence – and we don’t need that. I also think a BIG key is getting howard in foul trouble – it really helped us last game when he was on the bench. Bynum and Gasol need to attack him under the basket – not through up flip shots – drive right into him and get contact.
#5, Federer has beaten Nadal on clay. It’s obviously Federer’s worst surface to play on and Nadal’s best, although the latter is dangerous to Federer also on hardcourt and grass now. Federer hasn’t been able to beat Nadal in Roland Garros though. Let’s hope Nadal can stay healthy despite his physically demanding style of play, the direct duels are always games to behold.
I expect the Magic to not let Kobe get the looks he had in the last game, so the other 4 will have to be ready to score at will with the triangle running in tune. I sure hope they shoot 30% again, that would be nice.
I said before G1 that I like using Gasol in the high post against this team, with someone else posting up depending on who is in. They used that in G1 a few times and I think we should see more of it.
This is in Kurt’s post, and I was glad to see it there, too.
Listen for Mark Jackson’s annoying speaking pattern riddled with overused cliches today. Its a wonder he can order food and dress himself with such a limited vocabulary.
“Momma, there goes that man.”
“Excuse me, I have a meeting with the rim!”
“You’re better than that!”
“That’s a grown man move.”
“Come get in my poster!”
“NOT ON MY WATCH!”
“Time and time again … we see …”
“Oh — my — goodness!”
“And all of a sudden, it’s an x point game!”
“That’s just solid (or fundamental) basketball.”
“…that’s trusting your ability.”
lil' pau says
14, Mark Jackson is certainly horrible, but I must say that he annoys me (slightly) less than Stu Lance, who’s idea of analysis seems relegated to meaningless ruminations about the score vis a vis the game clock. For example: ‘The Lakers lead by 6 at the end of three quarters, let’s see how they play the first 5 minutes of the 4th… let’s see if they can build on that lead and stretch it to double digits, because if not, they’re only 2 possessions away from a tie with plenty of time to play…. blah blah blah…
Just talking for the sake of filling space.
off topic but.
Sampras is the best ever. He had much more competition than did Federer. Also when they played in exhibition matches the 40 year old Sampras beat federer pretty handidly.
Re. MJackson: I agree to a point, but he does say intelligent things about what he really knows: playing the 1. Example: he suggested that Farmar pick up Nelson full-court, just to make Nelson work a little, since Nelson may not be in fill cardio-game shape yet. Might not work, but I thought it was a good point.
He does have a more varied vocabulary than you give him credit for:
“…you must pay the price.”
“He has the package on the offensive end.”
“Put yourself in position to make plays.”
“That’s a great read by…”
Profound piece by Dex on the silliness of comparing true genius. A snippet:
“If Kobe had been set loose, and had a team built around him early, he may have won handfuls of rings, instead of three-fifths of a hand; but who would trade maybe for music played here and now? Who would trade potential poems for poetry? What Kobe has written will haunt me the rest of my days.”
Andreas G. says
This one I actually enjoy from MJ:
“It’s sunday, but the bank is still open!”
adam t says
My favorite Jackson-ism (talking about Kobe):
“Keep doin what you’re doin, and you’ll keep gettin what you’re gettin!”
dave in hillsboro says
You guys forgot Mark Jackson’s old standby:
“That’s good defense, but better offense.”
Incredible day by Tiger today!
lil' pau says
what i want to see tonight:
drew wins tip. posts up and scores on howard. 2-0.
orl tries to run turk/howard PnR. trevor fights over screen, turk comes around the pick, sees lakers everywhere, turns it over, then looks to van gundy with a ‘I thought that was going to work’ look on his face. From then on, a lot of awkward threes….
judging from his pronunciation of Mayor Villaraigosa’s name in the pregame news conference, David Stern must not run into too many Latinos in New York.
Echo the appreciation of Federer. GOAT! Glad to see him tie Sampras and finally get a full collection, now looking forward to him getting #15.
“There are only two Lakers on these team who have won a championship, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher”
Phil and coaching staff don’t count as Lakers anymore. Don’t tell me that their experience doesn’t count just because they’re not out there on the floor…
Hi and good evening everyone. Nice to be back! 🙂
17, Clutch – Many will disagree with you. Among them, Sampras himself:
“What he’s done over the past five years has never, ever been done—and probably will never, ever happen again,” Sampras said. “Regardless if he won there or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it.”
I just rewatched the 81 pt game just for fun, and can’t stop but think how far we have come.
Smush, Kwame, Devean… and Sasha with short hair 😉
Kinda feel bad/sorry for Turiaf and Mihm, although I guess Turiaf not as much.
Anyway, I hope we really win this thing this year, I’d hate to see Lamar and Ariza leave the Lakers without a ring.
And Federer is only 27 yet.
Game 2 chat thread up.
27 is a veritable retiree in tennis. They start when they’re 12-14 and play until 23-24 most of the time. Federer is old.
On basketball, look for the Magic to trap Kobe on the screen roll and force other Lakers to beat them. SVG doesn’t like doubling, but I think this is the only way they can challenge Kobe on offense.
Kashmir, followed by Baba O’Reilly…
Classic, classic music. Got to love that intro!
I’m here at the Staples right now (good karma for LA tonight, since whenever I go into their games, they are undefeated).
And as usual, the opening moments suck.
No love for your team there, Mr. Introducer!
I want to see LeBron’s face after he sees that Vitamin water commercial featuring Dwight Howard. LOL!