Coming off of their astonishing upset of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic get to face the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA title. The Lakers of course are old hat. This is the franchise’s 30th trip to the Finals and this bunch was the runner up to my beloved Celtics in the 2008 Finals. Oh, that never gets old!
Anyway, with Game 1 on us as this is being typed and with the news of Jameer Nelson’s activation, things may have changed a bit. Nelson is not 100% clearly, but he still averaged 28 points per game against the Lakers – he will help. Otherwise, a quick breakdown:
CENTER – Dwight Howard vs Andrew Bynum … big edge to Orlando. Howard was magnificent in the last round, Bynum has been inconsistent all playoff long
POWER FORWARD – Rashard Lewis vs Pau Gasol … double sided mismatch. Lewis will take Gasol way further than he wants to be, shooting threes at an insane clip. However, Gasol can punish him down low. Of course, the Lakers often forget to get him the ball, so could go either way. Small edge Lakers in theory.
SMALL FORWARD – Hedo Turkoglyu vs Trevor Ariza … Ariza is a good complementary piece, but Turkoglu at 6’10” provides interesting matchup problems, he gets the edge
POINT GUARD – Rafer Alston vs Derek Fisher … Fisher has been lousy most of the postseason … Alston is wildly inconsistent, but hey, he has played big … edge to Magic but not by much
SHOOTING GUARD – Courtney Lee vs Kobe Bryant … edge Lakers
BENCH – Magic have gotten more production in the playoffs from Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus and possibly Jameer Nelson.
BOTTOM LINE – the Lakers have some down low edges in depth and with Gasol. They COULD punish the Magic, and that might be their modus operandi. The Magic will shot a lot of 3s and if Howard plays well then there will be some openings. But ultimately the 2-3-2 hurts the Magic. Their home court edge is contingent upon beating LA three times in a row which is a very tall order against anybody. Thus they might have to win twice in LA to win the title and that might be too much to ask.
Lakers in 7