Thursday night will be the opening game to the 2009 NBA Championship. The Eastern Conference champion, Orlando Magic come in as underdogs, but it might be closer than you think.
Of course, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant and the Magic have Dwight Howard. But there's a lot more to a game than just one player. Let's take a look into the match ups we will be seeing Thursday night:
Rafer Alston is known as one of the best ball handlers in the league. He is also known as Skip to my Lou (his street ball name).
Derek Fisher has shown to be somewhat inconsistent. He can have some amazing games and everyone knows about his 0.4 second game winner. Rafer is a bit more on the consistent side.
He can hit jumpshots, pass and dribble circles around you. His consistency is going to be what gives him the nod here. Advantage: Magic.
I shouldn't have to go into much detail here. Although, Petrius can show some flares of excellence, he will be no match for Kobe. The leadership, superstar talent and will power that Kobe brings to the table will easily give him the advantage. Advantage: Lakers
You could make the argument that in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Hedo was the Magic's MVP. He has done a tremendous job with this team and his offense is very impressive.
On the other hand, you have Trevor Ariza, a freak athlete and lockdown defender. Ariza is known for his amazing defense and his ability to shut down his opponent.
This may not seem like a good matchup when you look at number because obviously Hedo has him beat there, but it will be a very good match up. In the long run, I think Hedo will win the battle. Advantage: Magic
This will be the best match up of the series. These two are that evenly matched. Gasol is more of an inside presence while Rashard could take it outside and hit jumpshots and threes. Strength goes to Shard, size goes to Gasol.
This match up will be very fun to watch. Rashard is the Magic's second or third option and same could be said for Gasol and the Lakers.
They will get about the same amount of touches. Neither of them play much defense, but I would say Rashard gets the better of him there. This is so close that I have decided to end it in a draw. Advantage: Even.
This is easy. Dwight makes this super easy. Bynum is a big body and is loaded with potential. He has shown some stellar games, but Dwight is too strong and athletic to lose this one.
Dwight is a monster on both ends of the court and is the best big man since Shaquille O'Neal. No way Bynum stands a chance. Advantage: Magic.
Lamar Odom is good enough to be a starter on just about any team in the league.
In fact, I'd say he's better than Ariza. Phil Jackson knows what he's doing though and he wants some fire power off the bench. Lamar Odom gets the minutes of a starter and they are well-deserved.
Also off the bench for the Lakers you have Luke Walton, Shannon Brown, and Jordan Farmar.
For the Magic you don't see too much. JJ Reddick got off to a hot start early on in the playoffs but since then has hit a cold streak and is back to his normal self.
Although he can and probably will come in and drain some deep buckets for the Magic, he won't be much of a factor. Surprisingly, Marcin Gortat has done a great job backing Dwight Howard up and I think he'll do OK in this series.
You have got to give Phil Jackson the nod here. No one knows how to win more than he does. He's been around forever. He coached Michael Jordan and now Kobe Bryant. He is one of the best coaches in the league currently and also one of the best coaches of all time.
Stan van Gundy is a very good coach as well, I'll give him that. He's done very well with this team and the players seem to be very pleased with him. But, there is no way that he's better than Phil Jackson. Advantage: Lakers.
I hate making predictions because there are a number of things that could happen. But, I'm going to have to predict the LA Lakers will be the new NBA Champions and I'm predicting they win it in six games.
NBA Champion: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Orlando Magic 4-2