But not all of us think the Lakers are going to lose. As a matter of fact, I can almost bet half the people on B/R want the Lakers to win.
I, personally, don't care who wins the Finals. I do think the Lakers are going to lose, though. This opinion is based on how good the Magic are, how bad the Lakers are against the Magic, and how bad the Lakers start off in important series like this.
Going into the Nuggets series, I think the Lakers did the same thing they did against the Houston Rockets—thinking they already won the series! The Lakers came out and played well in Game One of both series, only to let the other team even up the series by winning Game Two.
I would look for this same thing to happen in the Finals. I look for the Lakers to come out and put the Magic away in Game One as they often do. But the difference in this series is that the Magic are going to fight back.
The Magic tend to play just as well at home as they have away. This is the first reason I believe that the Magic win the series. The Magic might have beaten the Cavs in five games if LeBron James had not hit that amazing shot, evening the series at one a piece.
The second reason—Kobe Bryant is going to be so tired that he will not keep up with the Magic, he'll be running up and down all night. The Magic will frustrate Kobe early, with their money shooting, and Howard's defensive presence in the paint.
In the Denver series, 'Melo played on and off, like he tends to do. If he had not, the series would have turned out completely different. Rashard Lewis is the 'Melo of this series, but he almost never has a bad game. He is always calling for the ball, and consistently comes through when it's needed most...
The third reason is Hedo Turkoglu is a huge mismatch against the Lakers. Who are they going to put on him? Trevor Ariza? This would be great for the Magic, because then the Magic swing the ball around the perimeter and find open threes all game long!
So, with Ariza on Hedo, that puts Bryant on Rashard. This way, Rashard can just go to work and wear down Kobe so that he will not be as effective on the offensive side of the ball.
The fourth reason—Lamar Odom is a no-show! He comes to one game all hyped up, then the next he comes looking like a slug. Lamar Odom might just be one of the key reasons why the Lakers are going to lose.
He is lazy on defense and, most of the time, he is not aggressive on offense. Maybe he just ran out of candy in the beginning of the Nuggets series, or he did not feel like showing up. But for whatever reason, he was not effective until Game Five.
If the rumors are indeed correct, the Magic will have another weapon at their disposal in Jameer Nelson. Jameer might be checking in late and hitting a big shot, giving the Magic all the momentum. Rafer Alston is a great guy to have as well, and there is no way that Fisher is going to be able to contest his shot, and chase him all this series.
The fifth reason the Lakers lose is because Dwight Howard is going to kill the Lakers' big men. There is no way that Pau or Bynum are going to be able to guard Howard!
If Howard plays like he did in the Cleveland series, he will score at will—and often. He can run the floor faster than the Lakers' post players, and he is most effective when he is going right at the basket. He is going to get the Lakers into early foul trouble, Pao or Bynum will go to the bench, and that's when the Magic will take over.
The sixth reason the Magic will win is because they are a second-half team. No matter how they do in the first half, they come out in the second and dominate the boards, and light up the scoreboard!
Rashard Lewis is a second-half type guy who scores most of his points in the second and third period. He will be a big factor for the Magic, and I see no way the Lakers can account for all the weapons the Magic have in their arsenal!
During the regular season, the Magic won both of the matchups, despite Bryant having, at the time, a season-high 41 points, and making all 11 of his free throws. Then, the next meeting, Fisher scores 27 points along with four assists—and they still lose?
This just shows that Bryant can't do it all by himself like he did in the Denver series, and if Bryant does not do well, they still lose!
Fact of the matter is, the Magic are just plain better than the Lakers. They are playing better, they are doing better as a team, they have more mismatches, and they are just the better team.
Don't get me wrong about this article. Kobe Bryant is a great player, but we saw this last year, too; the Lakers are just not ready to play when it comes to the NBA Finals. I would love to see Phil or Kobe capture another ring, but this is not their year.
So my prediction for the NBA Finals—the Magic win the series in five games, and Dwight Howard walks away as the Finals MVP!
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