The SI cover jinks strikes again, as the Cleveland Cavaliers disappointed and fall short of advancing to the Finals to face the Lakers. The anticipation of Kobe vs. LeBron will have to wait until next year, and so will a title for Cleveland.
On the surface, a LeBron-less Finals is bad for the NBA, but it isn't all bad either. First off, it shuts up NBA conspiracy theorists. Second, Dwight Howard is a well known, marketable star, who is known by the casual fan for his All-Star weekend heroics.
Mike Brown's coach of the year should be revoked because of his defensive matchups (e.g. Ben Wallace on Rashad Lewis late in the game). But most of all, for his Box-and-One offense, with LeBron at the top of the key and everyone else out of his way.
The Coach of the Year award needs to be awarded after the postseason, that's when the coaches make their money. Coaches win playoff series with adjustments and matchups. I have no problem with the players awards to be determined during the regular season.
Howard will need every inch of his Superman cape to beat the Lakers. Howard may have help from Jameer Nelson, the Magic will retest his injured shoulder and consult a doctor on a possible return. Nelson hasn't played since early February.
The bi-polar Lakers will beat the Magic, that's right, the Magic are being written off again. The Lakers have more depth, and star power, both on the court and in the courtside seats. Howard will dominate the Lakers soft interior and Phil should let him.
Phil should not worry so much about the inside and focus on the perimeter, where the Magic have level the odds of upset thus far. Phil will win his one dozenth title, 10th as a coach to pass Red Auerbach and Kobe will win his first title without Shaq, fourth overall.
The Magic will put up a fight and may win a game or two with a excellent three point shooting night, but in a seven-game series I don't think they can beat the Lakers. So in sum, I don't believe in the Magic, this year.