The Lakers and Magic are both up 2-1 in their series but if you need me to tell you that you are on the wrong web site.
Needless to say, both of these series have been fantastic.
Lakers - Nuggets
For the past few years now I've thought the Nuggets were a team that played well below their talent level. It seems that the addition of a true baller in Chauncey Billups and the maturation of Carmelo Anthony has finally taking this Denver team to a new level.
You can't help but look at the "leveling up" of Melo and wonder if there is still more in store for our own under-achieving defensively indifferent super talent, Amare. I don't think though that you look at their overall defensive improvement and apply that lesson to the Suns. The Nuggets had better pieces to work with on the front line and they started out with a coach who's always understand and appreciated the need to play consistent defense.
The Lakers for their part look very tired. Kobe especially and their vaunted bench and depth isn't looking all that hot. Odom and Gasol for all their talent are a retelling of the lesson taught by the Warriors defeat of the Mavs a few years ago. Toughness and determination in the playoffs can sometimes overcome talent and size.
I still have the Lakers winning this series though mainly because of the Nuggets inexperience and lack of poise in crucial end of game situations. We've already seen these twice as the Nuggets were unable to inbound the ball in final possessions both times leading to Ariza steals.
Ariza btw, is a free agent this summer and a guy that would be a PERFECT fit on the Suns. I love players like him who can defend, play smart and hard, hit the occasional open shot and fill a role. I don't see any way he comes here so let's just hope that the Dudley and Amundson can combine to deliver what Trevor brings.
Magic - Cavs
I read somewhere last night a tweet or comment that suggested the Magic have improved more as the playoffs have progressed then any other team in recent memory. That certainly makes sense. Without Jameer Nelson's ability to slash and create, I didn't give the jump shooting Magic too much of a chance.
What they've been able to do though is play solid defense and expose the Cavs "other guys" as limited offense players. They are forcing LeBron to score 40+ points and use a ton of energy in the process. It was exactly how the Suns beat the Lakers in 05 and 06.
Like most people, I picked the Cavs to win this series and while I have my doubts, I will stick with that choice I don't trust teams that can only score with jump shots and Rafer Alston is...well, he's Rafer Alston. The difference though so far and the key if they are going to win is Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus. Like Ariza, those guys bring on both ends and while neither can carry the team offensively combined with the other streaky options the Magic might just have enough guys that can score enough points to beat the Cavs.
Give it up to the Master of Panic - Stan Van Gundy - for attacking Big Z on the pick and roll and getting his team to play solid defense.
Oh, and we can't forget The Shot.
Amazing. So, Amazing.