Well, we started the NBA playoffs in April with 16 teams vying for basketball's ultimate prize. After nearly two months of all out war, the dust has settled and only two teams remain. The Los Angeles Lakers, who were expected from game one of the regular season to be in the finals, and the Orlando Magic, who ruined the dream Kobe Bryant-LeBron James series, by upsetting the Cavaliers in six games, will be in the finals.
The Lakers have redeemed the experts by appearing in the finals for a second straight year. The Lakers are looking to avoid a repeat of last year's loss to the Boston Celtics. Here are five things the Lakers will have to do to avoid another loss and get their hands on the NBA Championship
The Lakers have the obvious advantage in the experience department, as they reached the finals last year and still have two remains from the Kobe-Shaq era in Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, along with most of last year's cast. The Lakers know what to expect out of the NBA Finals.
The Lakers need to use experience to their advantage to break down the younger Magic squad.
4. Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum's injuries were cited as the reason for the Lakers' demise last season. Now it is Bynum's play that might lead to Los Angeles' demise. Bynum has went from the next Shaq to a role player, and he is in danger of only receiving garbage time in the Finals.
Bynum would be a huge help for stopping Dwight Howard, but the way he is playing he might as well be a pylon. The Lakers need him and the rest of the bench to step it up if they want to avoid a repeat of last year.
3. Derek Fisher
Like in my Magic blog where I listed Rafer Alston as a key to winning, Derek Fisher is also a key component to the Lakers' success. Fisher is the Lakers' veteran leader and has had his fair share of clutch moments in the playoffs. If the Lakers are to win this thing, Fisher's leadership will be one of the main factors
2. Kobe Bryant Elevating His Team
Kobe Bryant had most of his success sharing the workload with Shaq, and since he has left, he has never won the title and has been criticized for not being able to lead a team on his own. He now has another chance to prove his critics wrong.
I believe Kobe will make his team better and will have a bunch of classic games throughout the series, which is what he will have to do in order to get that elusive ring without Shaq's help.
1. Perimeter D
The Magic's outside shooting is deadly, and it is what killed Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also ended Boston's run at a repeat. If the Laker's don't want to be victim No. 4 of the Magic's snipers, they are going to have to find a way to contain the outside shooters while being able to stop Dwight Howard.
A 1-3-1 Zone might be the answer, but that could leave open slots for the Magic to take their threes anyway. Phil Jackson will have to find a way to stop the seemingly unstoppable shooting by the Magics guards and forwards.
This series is going to come down to perimeter shooting, and if the Lakers want to get that taste of defeat out of their mouths, they will have to stop it