NBA, Playoff Blogger Faceoff / Jun 4, 2009 / 9:38 pm

NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff: Lakers vs. Magic


Welcome to our first ever NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff, where we pit our favorite team-related writers against each other to let them tell why the teams they represent will win their matchups. We gave them no set format, no style guide – we just told them to do their thing. Check it out and join in the debate in the comments section.

Last up: Lakers vs. Magic:

Written by Kurt of Forum Blue & Gold

The Lakers have said all year that the blowout loss in game six of last year’s Finals against Boston is what motivated them to get back. But what it gave them more than anything was an understanding of the level of play and intensity needed to win an NBA Title. Last year, the Lakers as a team just didn’t understand that, this year they will, and that experience is an underrated advantage.

They have some other on the court advantages as well. They have some big men in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (and expect some D.J. Mbenga as well) who can slow down Dwight Howard in the post. The Lakers are not going to double Howard in the post. None of the Lakers can stop him — the guy is one of the two best centers on the face of the earth — but if they can make him work for points and stick with the guys standing around at the three point line they can make the Magic less efficient. They are willing to let Howard get 25+ if they shut down the perimeter.

The Lakers also have better perimeter defenders than the Magic have seen in the playoffs. Trevor Ariza is going to come back and haunt his old team with his ability to defend Hedo Turkoglu. Lamar Odom is going to matchup on Rashard Lewis and can hold his own.

Then, in the end, the Magic don’t have anybody who can check Kobe Bryant. And he wants this title and can will his team to it.

Written by Ben Q. Rock of Third Quarter Collapse

One of the talking points favoring the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals is that they “want it more” than the Magic, that Orlando is simply “happy to be here.” Forgive my skepticism, but this line of thinking indicates that the team that won’t be satisfied with second place is automatically the winner. If that were the case, the Magic wouldn’t have even made it this far. The Cleveland Cavaliers were supposedly destined to win the championship this year, while the Magic could have just been happy to reach the Eastern Conference Finals despite missing their All-Star point guard for roughly half the season. They were happy to be there, sure, but not happy enough to roll over against the mighty, heavily-favored Cavaliers.

(And yes, for the record, I was one of the people favoring the Cavs in that series, but it had nothing to with the “Cleveland wants it more” line of thinking.)

If the Magic lose this series, they will do so because the Lakers are an offensive juggernaut, have the best player in the series on their side, and have some legitimate low-post scorers, which Orlando has not had to defend in these playoffs. Heart, desire, and “just being happy to be there” don’t figure into the equation at all.

With that said, I don’t think the Magic will lose this series. The advantage Pau Gasol has over Rashard Lewis offensively is overstated, as Lewis has proven time and again in Orlando he has the strength and moxie to defend true power forwards in the pain. Also, they probably will see less of each other than perhaps expected, because Andrew Bynum is bound to get into foul trouble and force the Lakers to use Gasol at center, although they’d like to keep Bynum on the floor because he has the physicality to at least pester Dwight Howard.

These are two fairly deep, talented, well-coached, titanic basketball teams, and we’re in for a hard-fought series. It could come down to a couple of points either way, as the first five games of the Magic’s series against Cleveland did – a total of two points separated them after 245 minutes – before they took control in Game 6. Incidentally, six games is how long I believe this series will last, and Orlando will once again cone out on top. It’s very hard to pick against a great team like the Lakers, and I wouldn’t bat an eye at all if they won the series. But I just feel more strongly about Orlando.

Magic in 6.

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  • goonther

    gasol looks like a muppet…

  • http://www.foxsports1340.com Steve Bortstein

    Stuart Scott is a tool…. that wandering eye of his always freaks me out.

  • ProphetGK

    Kobe all day, everyday bbbbbbrap brap!!

  • http://www.foxsports1340.com Steve Bortstein

    3:17 LEFT IN THE 3RD QUARTER…. and Kobe is SICK!!!! That was just wrong!

  • Kudabeen

    I don’t like how the refs are calling the game for the bigs, but it isn’t affecting the game. Lakers are dominating, because the Magic are playing casual. Jameer looked good, but he was overplayed in the second quarter. I think that took Rafer out of the game. It shouldn’t have, but as the Magic falls behind in the 3rd Rafer is not attacking anymore. Dwight isn’t working the boards.

    I’ve been saying he seems too score happy. Instead of focusing on rebounding and defending he is looking to the offensive end of the floor to define his success. That is a fatal flaw.

    I’m watching on a delay. DVR to avoid commercials, but Magic don’t have that fight right now. 1st quarter Rashard was trying to post and drive and that isn’t happening anymore.

    SVG needs to play Howard with Gortat. I don’t know why he refuses to do so. That is making the game harder on Dwight. they always have Battie to come in later. Poor substitutions and strategy. Lakers just look much better.

    I’m at 5:07 in the 3rd. We’ll see…

  • Kudabeen

    Kobe to LeBron via Jay-Z:

    “I show you how to do dis son!”

    Just a different type of dominance. LeBron bullied the Magic, but his mates staled. Kobe is slicing the Magic and his team is keeping their energy.

  • Reina

    Who cares what Gasol looks like? He’s proving that he CAN handle Lewis.

  • Danny

    lemme guess. this writer is basing his analysis on the way the magic played the lakers during the season. BIG difference between the cavs and lakers, the lakers play better in the playoffs. Besides, who has dwight faced on his way up to the finals?? First Dalembert, Perkins, Big Z/ANDY. Now he’s facing better bigs than he has before.

    *why the hell would you pick the magic??

  • Kudabeen

    I don’t see the Magic shooting this bad again. LA’s D was good, but 36 shots for Kobe is way too much. A lot of that was the 4th quarter misses where JJ showed once again that in spots he is not as horrible a defender as Stan Van Gundy has frequently treated him.

    I’m not a big JJ fan, but if guys aren’t going to hit open shots, why not play your teams best shooter, just to see what he has?

    Either way LA just looked ready. Like I said in an earlier post. LA has been playing all year with eyes on this moment. Magic just discovered this moment. Big difference…

  • tp

    regarding the number of shots kobe takes…

    we all saw the game, the majority of shots that kobe took were within the offense!!!! i mean come on, if you were the coach and kobe had a pretty clean look at a 15-20 footer, wouldnt you want him taking that??!? it’s one thing if he’s forcing his way through double teams and taking tough fadeaways, but he made it look really easy because :: 1) they were not doubling kobe off picks, and 2) these are the easiest defenders kobe has gone against all playoffs.

    a lot of times when kobe takes a lot of shots, criticism is justified. tonight is not one of those times.

    and regarding coaching, did anyone else wonder why phil left the starters til late into the fourth?

    i’m sure we all thought it was crazy. however once i thought about it, it was a GREAT move. this isn’t a regular season game, its a series. with the starters still on the floor, they kept up their defensive intensity. the magic never got into any offensive rhythm whatsoever starting in the second quarter. by keeping the starters in, it kept it that way and prevented the magic from carrying any momentum into game 2… i’m a big critic of phil, but it’s time for the haters to give phil some credit..

  • Kudabeen

    They were in Kobe’s offense yes, but the ball wasn’t moving. Phil Jackson himself stated that Kobe had too many shots. He wanted more movement and involvement of other guys. It wasn’t a game where no one was stepping up and playing with energy. Kobe just went into his mode a bit. No need to apologize or defend it. It is what it is. In a game that was in command the ball should really move to get guys going moving forward in the series.

    Either way like I said a many were forced shots in the 4th against JJ. Kobe just seemed like he was playing his matchup only.

    Either way a W is a W, but like the Laker’s coach…I can see where 34 shots can cause problems moving forward. it was 100 not 120 points scored.