Posted 1:07 AM by crkota in Labels: Sport
Both clubs caught their stride at the end of their respective conference finals. Each snowballing with momentum, we're bound to have a colossal collision between these two giants.
After dismantling the Nuggets, the Lakers are back in the championship round, but staring into the eyes of new adversaries. Though questioned and criticized by critics in their series against Houston and Denver, Phil Jackson and Kobe pulled out victories, telling everyone in the basketball world, "we know we're doing".
Dwight Howard, sick of the media hyping the Kobe/Lebron NBA finals showdown, took it upon himself to erase the Cavaliers from the playoff picture in game six. 40 points and 14 rebounds later, he and the Magic find themselves somewhere the team hasn't been in over a decade. Here in new territory, Superman and crew get to prove to the world just how hungry they are.
Many people out there won't give Orlando much of a chance at winning this series, and for good reason; the Lakers are battle tested, more experienced, and have pieces that the Cavs didn't have to take down the Magic.
Bynum and Pau Gasol are very capable on both ends of the court. While on defense, Stan Van Gundy won't be able to cheat off of them to focus on Kobe without paying a price. The Cavaliers did not make the Magic pay for doubling Lebron, but if SVG implements a similar strategy for Kobe, don't expect the same outcome. One glaring problem for the Magic is the Lakers' size down on the block. With Pau and Bynum are on the floor at the same time, I doubt Lewis playing power forward will suffice defensively speaking. Additionally, if Phil runs plays for his big men early and often, Howard is in danger of getting into early foul trouble. It'll be interesting to see whether or not SVG decides to play Gortat and Howard together more often for matchup purposes.
That being said, the Magic can also impose their will on offense if they take the initiative. Playing Rashard at PF allows them to stretch the floor (with Turkoglu, Howard, Lee, and Alston filling the other four spots), drawing Gasol out of the paint. This gives Dwight some room in the middle to execute some post moves, and get Bynum in foul trouble. When the double team comes, Howard knows the kick out to one of his open shooters. If the Magic can consistently hit from behind the arc, then they've got a shot at winning this thing.
For this reason, I think Phil Jackson will choose not to play Gasol and Bynum at the same time, instead opting to have Odom play big minutes at the 4. Kobe, Ariza, and Odom are going to give Orlando's wing-men lots of trouble on defense, and have more than enough offense ability between the three of them keep Orlando defenders honest while the Lakers have the ball.
Much of this battle will be dependent on the coaches. Both teams have multiple options, and it really comes down to how the coaches choose to adjust based on what's happening.