Kobe Bryant gets his fourth overall and his first "Shaqless" ring as the Lakers take out the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic en route to the franchise's 15th NBA title. We simulated the 2009 NBA Finals between LA and Orlando 10,000 times in order to determine the likelihood of either team winning it all. After losing to the Boston Celtics in six games last season (as we predicted), the Lakers return to the Finals and this time come out on top winning the series 61.7% of the time. The most common occurrence is a six game series, where Los Angeles wins it all in its return home after three games in Orlando.
Front-court depth and perimeter defense are the keys to the Lakers' victory. During the regular season, Los Angeles was third in the league in opponent three-point percentage (34.5%) and in offensive rebounding percentage (29.4%). With Andrew Bynum healthy and increased defensive intensity from Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher and others, the Lakers have been even tougher on opponents in the playoffs, allowing teams to hit just 31.3% of their threes and just 42.9% of their shots overall. Dwight Howard is clearly the best rebounder in the series, but the Lakers have great rebounders at every position but point guard, while the Magic tend to forsake offensive rebounding opportunities for open perimeter shots. Maximizing offensive touches with second chance points and limiting turnovers as well as utilizing the team's length to impact the Magic's outside shooting will earn the Lakers the victory.
As is evident below, we had to make some assumptions regarding playoff rosters. Despite recent rumors, we do not expect Orlando's Jameer Nelson to come back for the Finals and otherwise believe that the rosters, depth charts and playing time for both teams will be similar to the conference finals. That being said, Nelson would not change the outcome much. His presence in a platoon with Rafer Alston could improve the Magic's chances of winning the series from 38.3% to 41.1% where the most likely outcome is still a six game series won by LA.
Edited by MDI, May 31, 2009 - 08:47 PM.