Monday, June 1, 2009

VSR: NBA Finals Preview

It's ironic that the two teams that only one series ago were being questioned for lacking toughness showed in their Game 6's in the conf. finals and now the NBA Finals jump off Thursday night. L.A. Lakers vs. Orlando Magic - enter your cliche battle taglines here.

(Hollywood vs. Tiger Woods, the two best teams Shaq O'Neal played for, The Game vs. Flo-RIDA, J.A. Adande vs. Jemele Hill, Black Mamba vs. Superman)

Orlando beat the Lakers in both meetings this year, but unlike Boston last year, neither victory was one-sided. The Magic are a great perimeter shooting team with guys who can also slash (Lewis, Turkoglu) and they have the best young big man since Shaq in Dwight Howard. Love how the LA Times described him...a beast with the physique of a Greek God, one who can get rebounds and tip slams in a single bound. Superman indeed.

Did I forget Skip to My Lou? Naw. I've been mixed on him for a few years but with every success he adds to his streetball legend. He'll go down as perhaps the last great streetball legend to find success in the league because he knows how to be a solid PG.

The scary thing for the Lakers? They're almost no different than Houston - a strong perimeter team with guys who can slash. They don't have the big bodies the Lakers do but their 3-pt snipers are deadlier. Throw in Superman Jr. and you got a deadly team.

But with all of that said, the Lakers match up pretty well with them. Skip to My Lou and Anthony Johnson aren't that fast/physical so Derek Fisher won't be totally abused (Shannon Breezy and Jordan Farmar? They have the edge). Ariza and Lamar Odom can stick with Turkoglu, Lewis and Mikael Petreaus because of their versatility. Odom hates to get banged around so staying on the perimeter would suit him fine.

This is where Andruw Bynum has got to stand up and take fouls. Howard will abuse him and throw him around like a doll and he must respond like an NBA center. Phil Jax can't be scared to let him get in foul trouble and he can't be scared to use DJ Mbenga either just because he's a big body with 6 fouls.

Kobe destroyed Orlando in both games (34.5 and 10.5 boards with 7 dimes) and it's clear that while he wants to be the facilitator, he knows from last year that he has to be willing to take over games when people don't step up. He wants that Finals MVP trophy but knows it won't come easy.

It's up to Pau Gasol to step up and be productive against the Defensive Player of the Year. 12 pts and 8 rebounds like he averaged during the season won't cut it. He and Odom have to keep playing like they did the last two games. It's about hunger and desire and taking advantage where it's obvious.

This should be a good series? Will the Lakers have finally learned from last year's mistakes or will the Magic bring Disney luck to Hollywood?

(Tomorrow, I might do something on the 1994-95 Orlando squad - The first team I really followed in sports, stay tuned)

No comments:

Post a Comment