The NBA Finals arrive in Orlando on Tuesday and have probably played out the way most people thought. The Los Angeles Lakers have a commanding 2-0 lead and look likely to bring the championship back to Southern California before the weekend.
But let's not count our chickens before they hatch.
This is nothing new to the Magic. The team has found the fairy dust before, and has been on top of the world. If you need an example, see the series between the Boston Celtics.
Trailing 3-2 against the Celtics and knowing that Boston was a perfect 32-0 in the postseason when they posed an advantage, the Magic dug deep and came out on top.
Or how about the series against the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers, where the doubters already lingered long before the opening tip? But the Magic prevailed and took down the defending champs in six games. This series shouldn't be any different, and Orlando's back is against the wall. But it may be a taller and thicker wall to penetrate.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has a little under .700 lifetime playoff winning percentage and is one title away from winning his 10th NBA championship, which would surpass the late Red Auerbach. Kobe Bryant looks to capture and probably his most defining, fourth championship in his career. For the rest of the Laker squad, the sweet satisfaction of avenging a broken destiny shattered by the Boston Celtics.
So the next three games will be in Orlando and they must play better defense and make open baskets. Every coach's dream, right? Dwight Howard needs to take advantage of his strength when guarded against a sometimes-nimble Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Rafer Aston, who holds a scoring average of 5.0 in this series, needs to find his shot while Hedo Turkoglu needs to breakdown the Lakers defense with his ability to find the open man.
If the Magic finds its spark, it could very well melt the champagne ice for the time being.
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