People have counted out the Orlando Magic this entire postseason, and that includes myself. Even heading into the opening-round series against the Sixers, I had my doubts about this team's toughness.
I stand corrected.
However, the Magic are going to have to prove me wrong one more time to win their first NBA Championship because the Lakers just look too good for them in this series.
Throw everything out of the window when it comes to the Magic beating their first three teams of the playoffs because the Lakers are far different than Philly, Boston, and most certainly Cleveland. The Lakers create many matchup problems for the Magic, much like the Magic did to the Cavs.
The obvious first question is: who is going to guard Kobe? You can't double-team him heavily like you did against LeBron because Kobe will find his teammates who are very capable of beating you. Double-team Kobe and he's probably going dish it over to Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, or Trevor Ariza. Ariza has elevated his game tremendously this postseason and that could spell problems for Orlando.
Dwight Howard is also going to have a lot harder time having his way with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom doing the defending down low. It's going to be critical that Howard hits his free throws at a high percentage because the Lakers aren't going to let him just cruise on in and get easy shots.
As gloomy as it might look for Orlando, I still can't count them out completely. This team lives and dies by the three and anything can happen when you're that kind of a team. If Orlando's threes weren't falling in the Eastern Conference Finals, then Cleveland might be in the NBA Finals. It's a high risk, high reward proposition for Orlando.
Orlando will probably continue to be effective from behind the arc but it will only take them so far. Players like Mickael Pietrus, Rafer Alston, and Rashard Lewis are all going to have to carry the load on offense to beat the Lakers. It's possible, but it's going to be very tough.
In the end, it's going to be a home team's series and this year's NBA Finals will go seven games. Orlando will enter Game Seven living and dying by the three-pointer and the Staples Center crowd will probably get to them. Besides Hedo Turkoglu, none of these perimeter shooter have ever been in this type of situation where the stakes are this high.
Kobe Bryant will not let the Lakers lose at home in Game Seven. So the NBA shouldn't be too down on themselves for not getting a LeBron-Kobe NBA Finals, because this will still be a great series with plenty of drama and excitement.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!