Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the entire Lakers Nation.
The (31-9) Lakers are hosting the (26-14) Orlando Magic in the highly anticipated NBA Finals rematch. The Lakers aren’t a completely healthy team, but are well enough to defend their Championship title.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions have gone four and six in their last 10 games losing they’re last two games coming into this match up. The team isn’t playing like this will actually be a rematch from the Finals last year but merely another game on the schedule.
The Magic are 12-10 on the road and with the extra added motivation of attempting to exact some measure of revenge against the Lakers’ means that this game will be played with a high level of intensity.
There were some who mistakenly thought that Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol couldn’t play together, as if the painted area wasn’t big enough for both of them. After a series of solid performances posted by Andrew Bynum and a combined 40 points by the duo in a 40-point blowout of the Clippers should put a lot of those conversations to rest.
The interesting thing is that ironically it is the Magic that are fielding questions about Rashard Lewis & Vince Carter co-existing.
The fact that the Lakers record is where it is considering that they’ve played 17 games without Pau Gasol is great. The Magic have All-Stars Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter on their team but unfortunately for them, they aren’t playing like All-Stars.
The Lakers need to make defense their calling card and not allow this team to play well against them.
Small quick point guards always seem to give the Lakers trouble and in the regular season last year Jameer Nelson was a huge difference maker in the two games against Magic. The Lakers need to defend him well in the screen and roll plays and deny him the penetrating to the basket. The Magic are a team that will shoot a high number of shots from behind the arc, the Lakers need to extend their defense out to the three point line and challenge every shot.
The Lakers frontline will have their hands full slowing down Dwight Howard. The frontline needs to be much more aggressive on both ends of the court against this team and attack the basket offensively. Just like in the Finals, Bynum and Gasol have the size to frustrate Howard, force him to shoot over them and if all else fails put him on the free throw line as opposed to allowing him to dunk the ball.
The Lakers are running their offense well using excellent player movement and excellent ball movement and getting good shots. They need to come out of the locker room playing with a high energy level. The Purple and Gold have to match the intensity level that the Magic will bring. Losing a Championship at home and seeing your opponent celebrate on your floor is a sight that a team will never forget and will look to avenge.
Consequently, the Lakers have something to avenge as well knowing that last year’s four games to one series win should have been over in four games.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Orlando: TNT
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Orlando: Newstalk AM 580 WDBO (Dennis Newman & Richie Adubato)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion fracture of right index finger, elbow & back)
- Sasha Vujacic (Hamstring)
- SG Vince Carter (Shoulder)