103-90 is not exactly what you would call a "competitive" loss, nor was it the desired result for all the people dying to see the Kobe-LeBron showdown that has been so hyped all year long.
For fans, though, a silver lining does exist in the Cavs' exit from the NBA playoffs Saturday night. Here are a few reasons why you should not adjust your television set just because you won't see No. 23 guarding No. 24 on Thursday night.
The Three Point Shot
It's been suggested that shooting more from the outside has a positive effect on the outcome of the game. In these NBA Finals, more than ever before, the trey will be the key component to success for both teams.
Five of the top ten players in three-point shooting this postseason will participate in this series (Rashard Lewis, Rafer Alston, Mickael Pietrus, Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant), and that's without even mentioning Orlando's fondness of the deep ball.
Lewis led the league in three-pointers made during the season with 220 (more than 20 ahead of Ray Allen) and shot 43 percent from long range in games the Magic won.
Against the Lakers, he shot 44 percent, and the Magic took both games, each one by a multiple of three points (three and six, respectively).
Lewis' performance on offensive should play an important role in the Magic's success, especially if Dwight Howard has problems with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum inside.
However, don't expect Lewis to perform well in Game One—although he's shot 43 percent from deep in away games this year, he's also shot under 30 percent on more than three days rest.
Nonetheless, expect the threes to be flying. And who doesn't love watching shots go in from ridiculous distances?
The Debacle Down Low
Of all the big men on playoff teams, two have double-digit double-double totals: Gasol and Howard. In their two regular season matchups, the Spaniard was thoroughly dominated by the Atlanta native, and many speculate that Gasol is too soft to play Howard one-on-one.
Were Andrew Bynum completely healthy, he might be a formidable obstacle for Superman, but he's been hobbled by a bad knee lately and may not play more than half the game.
Lamar Odom played well at Orlando but had a poor showing against the Magic at the Staples Center.
So, how exactly do the Lakers play this one? With Howard pounding inside and Lewis hitting from the outside, L.A. will have their hands full. Kobe can't guard everyone.
Jameer Nelson's Return...?
He hasn't played in four months, but you can't argue with All-Star talent. Anybody who averages 16 points and five assists per game definitely deserves to play.
The question is, where does Nelson fit in Stan Van Gundy's strategy? Does he start? Does he come off the bench? Does he play a lot or just in spots?
Orlando seems to have jelled around Rafer Alston since Nelson went down, and Van Gundy may not want to ruin that chemistry. But in the regular season games against L.A., Nelson scored more than 25 points and had at least five assists each time.
Make no mistake—Alston is the hot hand, and there's no reason Van Gundy should change horses in the middle of the playoffs. But with Alston playing a little more than 30 minutes per game, Nelson could see an entire quarter of floor time in which he would have a great chance to impress the coaches.
Clear your Thursday night schedule now—this series will definitely be worth watching.
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