Magic-Lakers: How Orlando Can Save Its Season

Tom DeRiggiContributor IIJune 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic calls a play in Game Two of the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on June 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Hear ye! Hear ye! 

I come to you today with a newly-formed, foolproof system that I have constructed to get the Orlando Magic back into this NBA Finals, and—wait for it—potentially win it! 

Now I realize I was down on the Magic after Game Two.  But after thinking about the series for a couple days, I now have devised a way for the Magic to win. 

A couple of disclaimers before we start.  Most of these are directed towards you, Stan Van Gundy. 

First of all, you have to stick to my plan in every aspect.  Do not try and stray away and do crazy, out-of-this-world things like playing Jameer Nelson 25 minutes per game when he hasn't seen any type of competition in four months. 

Second, Stan, please do not claim any of these tactics as your own.  Just because I don't have legal rights to Chit-Chat Sports, because I can't afford them, doesn't mean you take them and run with them in one of your raspy-voiced press conferences.

Now—let's get started, Orlando!

Let's look at how you guys got here.  You started in a surprisingly tough first series in Philadelphia.  Andre Iguodala was going off in the first few games and you guys didn't have an answer. 

So what did you do?  Well, you shut down the rest of the team and made Iguodala try and beat you by himself.  And you ultimately won the series 4-2.

Next series you took on the defending champion Boston Celtics.  Granted, they didn't have Kevin Garnett, but they still had one of the most crafty scorers in the entire league in Paul Peirce.  So what did you do, Stan?  You made the rest of the team beat you (which they almost did).  But you managed to hold off Ray Allen and Big Baby Davis.

Then you guys went to Cleveland to play the MVP LeBron James.  Just as surprising as that crazy guy who ran onto the French Open finals match towards Roger Federer, you guys handled Cleveland pretty well implying this same strategy that has worked for you throughout the playoffs.  Shut down the rest of the team, and let LeBron do his thing.  LeBron went on to average a 43-9-8 but they only managed to win two games.

Now you guys are in the Finals against arguably (very arguably) the best player on the planet.  So naturally, one would think that you would try to implement the same style of play—shut down the role players and let Kobe work for every bucket.

However, for some strange reason that no one can determine, you have completely changed your style of play.  Now you guys are trying to play a very confusing help defense on Kobe instead of playing him straight up and making him work for every basket. 

Kobe is not stupid.  He sees this and is playing right into it.  He is drawing that extra help defender just far enough where he can dish to the wide-open player for the basket.  Combine that with the astronomical stupidity of giving Jameer Nelson huge minutes when he has not played in forever, and it's no wonder you guys are down 0-2. 
So allow me to save all the hard work you guys have put in this season, and get you back into this series.

1)  You need to play Kobe straight up.  Do not double team.  Do not shade defenders to his side of the court.  Let Mikael Pietrus play him straight up, and make him work for every bucket. 

The Lakers are at their best when Kobe scores in the 22-29 range.  This means that everyone on the Lakers is involved in the scoring and it makes them the best team in the league.  So play Kobe straight up and make him score 45-50 to win, much like LeBron had to do.

2)  For once, I actually agree with Skip Bayless right now.  He beat me to the punch as I couldn't type fast enough.  He is on First Take right now, preaching to the choir about how the playing of Jameer Nelson needs to absolutely stop.  I couldn't agree more. 

Stan, you decided to play Nelson 25 minutes in the first game.  25 minutes?  Not only does this break up the chemistry that you've worked to develop the entire postseason, but it also has shaken Rafer Alston's confidence.  Rafer's lost his swagger (as the kids call it these days) after watching his minutes plummet in favor of Jameer. 

You need to go back to the old rotation.  Play Rafer 35-38 minutes, and back him up with Anthony Johnson, who played extremely well during the entire postseason.  Try and reestablish that chemistry that was winning you playoff series.

3)  Finally, you have to find a way to put the pressure back on LA.  Look, no one thinks you guys are going to win this series.  NO ONE.  So play like you have nothing to lose, because you don't. 

If you start winning a few games, then all of the pressure switches to LA.  Much like you guys did to the Cavaliers.  Turn all the pressure back on to LA, and play like you have nothing to lose.  Then we might have an enjoyable series to watch.

Quick preview for tonight:  I think Dwight Howard has to come out hot.  If he doesn't get going early, he doesn't play well later on in games. 

I think this is the one game that Orlando wins.  I originally said Lakers in six but I just don't see how Orlando wins two games in this series.  Final Score tonight:  110-99, Orlando.


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