Laker Chronicles: Tabula Rasa – Part Deux

deuxSo, here we are; Western Conference Champions.

To say it was unexpected is a blatant lie, and to further imply that this will be an easy series would be an even bigger one.

Not only did the Orlando Magic turn the tables on the highly publicized “Kobe vs. LeHype” theory (I guess, Nike will have to shelve those Kobe and Lebron puppets for later exploitation), but they made it look easy. The Cleveland Cavaliers were tough, but their nucleus (and a big one at that), was Lebron. A team centered around one player often crumbles if antagonized, and that is what ended up bring Cleveland’s run to a screeching halt, and resulted in their eventual collapse under the pressure.

Many would like to say the same for the Lakers, stating that, the Lakers are constructed from the foundation of the Black Mamba, but that is only dictated by one factor: Who decides to show up when it’s game time.

With the eve of Game 1 looming larger and larger on the horizon, Laker veteran and current assistant coach, Brian Shaw (Oh, and did I mention that he also does scouting for the Magic?) came forth and said, “I feel like we have to be concerned about doing what we do.” His reasoning subtly underlines the issues that plague the Lakers the most, and will eventually be our Golden Ticket if diminished.

As always, our weaknesses in this particular series will be emphasized in how Game 1 goes, so until then, we must once more, hypothesize. Orlando’s offense revolves around three major aspects: their long-range shooting, Dwight Howard, and smooth transitions.

Their quick ball movement caters well to their fondness for launching off shots from beyond the arc. Orlando was the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA this season, and that efficiency cannot be left unheeded on our end.

Every jumper must be contested.

This may not be an easy chore for the Lakers, considering their tendencies to linger around the paint in a loosely set-up zone and you can often find them lagging to contest the outside shot. But with the right amount of adjustment (mentally and physically), it is a threat we can easily take care of.

Dwight Howard needs to be shut down.

The last two occasions in regular season in which we found ourselves opposite Orlando, Howard had a ridiculously large amount of rebounds (12 and 20) and was solid in offensive play. He also happens to be one of the first players, on either team, to arrive at either end of the court. Maybe instead of starting Bynum, we can throw in Lamar and see how well he fares. He would be able to keep up with Howard more so than Bynum (Bynum has a tendency to be one of the last few up the floor), and in order to keep Howard at bay, we need someone like Lamar who can put a body on him and limit his offensive touches. Bynum has a tendency to get into foul trouble, and the last thing we can afford to contribute is a slow start.

The Lakers’ should also keep in mind how well the Magic shifts from defense to offense. Too often we’re left scrambling to get set up and are getting blown by on penetration plays (unless our backs our turned, which is a completely different story), which leaves us the vulnerable party while running the floor (Just another good reason for Lamar to start over Bynum).

Effort and intensity can easily lay this problem to rest as well, but that falls on our boys in Gold.

Thankfully, we have a size advantage over the Magic, and if we utilize that, there is no way we can be stopped (and no, that does not necessarily mean that Bynum NEEDS to start). Hopefully, our second unit will rise to the challenge as well.

We know Kobe is going to bring his A-game for another ring, but we cannot rely on Kobe to win it for us (nor the duo of Kobe and Gasol). Only a group effort will bring us our 15th championship, and I sincerely hope this mindset is employed as we delve into the NBA Finals come Thursday.

  • MIKE SANDERS

    I don’t agree on starting Odom over Bynum, at least not yet. You can’t change up your game plan by worrying about on paper match ups. Stick with what works and adjust accordingly.

  • http://myspace.com/badlatinmutha JohnJohn

    Leave the lineup till after game 1 then make changes if necessary.

  • Kid Kaos 310

    One request to my boys on the Pod Cast. Let’s start to promote a chant for Pau when he’s at the free throw line. We all chant MVP for Kobe; how about we chant “Spaniard” when Pau get to that charity line. I know it seems cheesy and kind of a rip on the movie Gladiator, but it’s so appropriate. So some love and support for our SPANIARD!

  • Stephen

    We need to make sure we come out and play every game from start to finish like we did in game 6 in Denver. We also tend to be sometimes less focused at home than on the road for the earlier part of games. Against Orlando, we need to have a full 48 minute team effort and make sure we hold on to any big leads as well. Easier said than done, but if we do those things there is no way the Magic can beat us.

  • kwame4mvp

    I know not many of you are with me on this, but I feel that the crowd’s lack of energy is because of our boring ass pa announcer. Other arena’s pump up the crowd. Remember Mason? Everytime Detroit got the ball: “DETROIT BASKETBALL1″ Our announcer is the worst in the league and he seems bored. Anyways, the Lakers are too old-school to change anything. It took years before they actually turned off the lights during the pre-game introductions…

  • KING

    i second the SPANIARD chant. i think it’ll be cool. but idk about starting odom, i can honestly say they are about as equal in consistency, so its a bit of a coin toss for me. either way i think we’ll previal

  • kevin

    If it aint broke dont fix it.

  • lakergirl

    I believe in Lakers but somehow I am feeling uncomfortable playing Orlando. They are kind of like 2006-07 phoenix suns teams but with some interior defense in Howard. We were up 3-1 and lost to the suns in 7 games. Orlando is worrying me, keeping me up at nites, giving me nightmares. Hopefully my prayers will be answered and Lakers will win.

  • 123kid

    ^i’ll agree with you on that. i hate when we lose and i hat that these finals havent gone under way yet. i dont wanna even watch espn or look into yahoo sports or anything and hearing these lame analysis on the magics. overall, i just want the lakers to go out there and torch these suckers! i wanna be able to celebrate and have good night rests knowing the lakers are going to redeem themselves and win this years championship.

  • ALthelakerfanyoushouldmeet

    Lakers in 5 games if they come out like the way I expect them to in game 1. This is a team on a mission.

  • GETLEBRON.COM

    Let’s go Lakers!!! I want a repeat performance of last years finals.

  • WifelovesLuke

    Tatum, Tatum, Tatum? Starting LO at the center position over Bynum? Serious? You just lost a ton of credibility with TLN. LO is needed on Lewis. Period!

  • purplegoldveins

    for someone who’s job it is to write about the lakers, this article lost all credibility when you suggest lamar odom has a better shot at guarding Dwight then Drew. Though you were right about Dwights floor running ability, you still need to put a bigger body on him. Winning a championship is not eazy, so thats no excuse for drew not running the floor. Dwight would eat Lamar like his favorite candy bar. your crazy.