Do The Orlando Magic Have Enough Tricks Up Their Sleeve to Beat LA?
This series will be all about the matchups. I would be surprised if the Lakers played the same starting five they used against the Denver Nuggets.
Andrew Bynum has been getting the start at center, moving Pau Gasol to the power forward position. That would mean Gasol would cover Rashard Lewis, which would be a mismatch on both sides of the ball.
Lewis is far too quick for Gasol to come out to the perimeter to cover, and Lewis would get eaten down low trying to cover Gasol.
I think the better matchup would be starting Lamar Odom at the power forward position. Odom and Trevor Ariza will take their turns trying to guard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.
I wouldn't even be surprised if Phil Jackson gave Kobe Bryant some time guarding Hedo or Rashard.
Although he doesn't have the size they do, you can't deny his aggressive defense and will to win. Jackson had him covering Carmelo Anthony last series because it appeared no one else wanted to.
Derek Fisher vs. Rafer Alston will be an interesting matchup. Alston is quicker, but Fisher is stronger. Due to Fisher's experience and ability to lead, I give Fisher the slight edge.
Stan Van Gundy might also alter his starting five. Mickael Pietrus is a better defender than Courtney Lee and is a better player to cover Kobe Bryant. Pietrus might not get the start, but I'm positive he will play more minutes.
The Lakers have better matchups against the Magic than the Cavs did, with Odom, Bryant, and Ariza all capable of guarding Hedo and Rashard. The key matchup to this series will be Dwight Howard in the post.
Gasol is an above-average defender, but I don't think he is big enough to keep Howard away from the basket.
I already discussed the mismatches if they brought in Bynum, but when they do I still don't believe he will be able to contain Howard.
Howard will come out to the top of the key to set high pick and rolls and Bynum simply doesn't have the speed to help fight off the screen and then get back to Howard.
This will be a great series. I don't really see any team with an obvious advantage. Kobe will be Kobe and Superman will be Superman. The Lakers are the more experienced team, but Orlando is quicker and is deadly behind the arc.
I think Kobe knows his chances of winning a ring with out Shaq are running low. If he wants to carve his name into the ultimate tree of greatest players ever, he needs to win it all this year.
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