Lakers vs Magic: Preview to the 2009 NBA Finals

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kobedwight

It’s not a Kobe/Lebron matchup as many fans (and NBA commissioner David Stern) may have pined for, but tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic square off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. While the Lakers may be the favorite to win the series, they did come up short against the Magic during the regular season–dropping both meetings. So who will get their first NBA title…Adam Morrison or J.J. Redick? Let’s find out as we preview the 2009 NBA Finals.

How Did They Get Here?:

The Lakers, the #1 seed in the Western Conference, took out the Jazz, Rockets, and Denver Nuggets to get to the Finals. The Magic, the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference, had a much harder road to the Finals, defeating the Philadelphia Sixers, Boston Celtics, and then ousting the #1 seed Cleveland Cavs to reach the Finals. In the regular season, the Lakers won 65 games to Orlando’s 59.

Star Power:

Kobe Bryant vs. Dwight Howard. The Lakers’ triangle offense runs through Kobe, who averaged 26.8 ppg this year. The three-time NBA champ is the complete shooting guard—he can shoot from the outside, create shots for himself, and defend against the opposing team’s best shooters. Dwight Howard is freakish athlete who averaged 20.6 ppg and a shade under 14 rebounds this year. Defensively, his size and body strength often alters shots around the basket for opponents.

Advantage: Los Angeles

X Factors:

Mikael Pietrus and Jameer Nelson vs. Trevor Ariza. Pietrus is an excellent perimeter defender who has hit big shots for the Magic off the bench this season. Nelson, the Magic point guard out with a shoulder injury since February, has said he intends to play this series after being selected to his first All-Star Game this year. Ariza, a SF/SG for the Lakers has good size and athleticism while shooting 50% from the 3-point line in the playoffs.

Advantage: Orlando

Coaching:

Phil Jackson vs. Stan Van Gundy. The Lakers sport an advantage in this category, as Jackson brings nine NBA titles won as a coach, and Van Gundy, who looks as if Ron Jeremy and Super Mario mated to create this fiery loudmouth.

Advantage: Los Angeles

Key Matchup:

Mikael Pietrus on Kobe Bryant. Bryant has topped the 30+ point plateau 10 times this postseason, and Pietrus, the Magic’s best perimeter defender, will do his best to get a hand in the face of #24. In last year’s NBA Finals, the Celtics’ defensive schemes frustrated Kobe, and we don’t doubt that he will be looking to torch the Magic this time in the Finals.

Advantage: Los Angeles

Prediction:

Kobe will be looking to win his first title sans Shaq in Los Angeles. The Magic, a severely-underrated team coming into the playoffs, will look to win their first NBA title as a franchise, making an appearance in the championship for the first time since ’95. The Magic are a mentally tough team, evidenced by coming back from a 3-2 game deficit to defeat the Celtics, last year’s NBA champs. Both teams have above-average supporting casts, and this series will be very close, as each teams are excellent at home (Orlando only nine losses during the regular season, Lakers only five losses). But Bryant’s killer instinct will help LA prevail, albeit by a close margin, in seven games.

COED Writer
COED Writer