Here it is, 6 weeks after the end of the regular season and there are two teams standing. These are the two best teams in the league this season and they proved that in their head to head playoff match ups but both teams are also flawed. We will see over the next few weeks which is able to overcome it's own weaknesses and take advantage of the other's.
Without Jameer Nelson the Magic are still very reliant on outside shooting. They do have a lot of great shooters but the key to me is to stay home on them and not double team Dwight Howard. Howard still has a very predictible move from the left block rolling across the lane. He doesn't want to go baseline.
He is strong enough however to overwhelm Gasol like he did to Varejao last night so it will be key for Bynum to man up and play Dwight strong like Perkins did. If I were a Lakers fan (and I am most certainly NOT) I would be worried about any "key" that involves Andrew Bynum who looks not only slow but disintersted.
The two guys from the Magic that were most impressive were Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus. Both of these guys are great wing defenders and Pietrus was hitting his outside shots and Lee is pretty much the only guy on that team that can slash and score.
The Magic improved throughout the playoffs like the Celtics did last year. After giving up big leads and struggling with the 76ers it seemed that this team really were being lead by the "master of panic" but they proved otherwise by beating the Cavs in 6.
The Lakers have also struggled with keeping their focus and had a tendency to blow leads but their big game 6 win on the road showed that they also had improved as they got closer to the finals.
Kobe in this series will again have a favorable match up against the solid but over-matched Lee and Pietrus combo. Most importantly, he's going to have plenty of time to rest.
Against the Magic I wonder if the Lakers shouldn't go big with Bynum, Gasol and Odom up front and Kobe and Ariza in the back court. Fisher is giving them nothing and I like the pair of Odom and Gasol to counter Lewis and Hedo. Again though this depends a lot on Bynum how has been very unimpressive so far in the playoffs and clearly and deservedly isn't in Phil Jackson's circle of trust.
As much as it pains me, I think the Lakers will take this riding a highly motivated and well rested Kobe and with much more depth and mobile size then the Cavs could manage. Lakers in 6