Magic at Lakers Game 1
Game 1 in Los Angeles
After so many games, here we are in front of the first gane of the NBA finals.
The Magic’s season seemed doomed when All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson went down with a shoulder injury in February. The team survived the adversity and now might get a recovered Nelson back for the Finals.
Van Gundy was still weighing whether to play Nelson, who averaged 27.5 points in the two wins over Los Angeles. He isn’t worried about Nelson disrupting Orlando’s chemistry, and Van Gundy is not convinced his return would provide any goose bumps.
I’ll see the advantage on the LAkers side and on the first game the balance will lean towards them.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant, Lakers v. Courtney Lee, Magic
Look for a continuation of a Lee-Mickael Pietrus combo, but Bryant still tops their scoring totals 26.8 to 19.2. Pietrus has taken on the Bruce Bowen role for the Magic as a defensive specialist and a master of the corner three-pointer. Lee has a nice mid-range jumper and is more of a slasher than Pietrus.
And Kobe is Kobe.
Both Lee (6’5″ and 200 lbs) and Pietrus (6’6″ and 215 lbs) matchup well with Bryant (6’6″ and 205).
Advantage: Kobe—It’s Kobe.
Small Forward: Trevor Arzia, Lakers v. Hedo Turkoglu, Magic
Arzia is long and athletic enough to matchup and stay with Turkoglu. Turkoglu has issues with players that are quicker, not bigger. But Ariza has size (6’8″) and speed to stay with Turkoglu from the perimeter to the post.
Turkoglu has been shot inconsistently in the playoffs, but he’s always willing and able in the clutch. His scoring is down to 15.2 ppg from 16.8, but his assists are slightly higher.
In Orlando’s closest games, the Magic look to Turkoglu to make their offense go.
Arzia is definitely not the first, second, or third option on offense for the Lakers, but he is averaging 11.4 ppg while shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.
Even though this matchup will be close, I think Turkoglu will find ways to get his numbers and be the go-to guy in the fourth quarter.
Advantage: Turkoglu—Too many ways to score.
“My next goal is winning the NBA championship,” Kobe said. “We don’t want to fall short of that.”
Los Angeles would seem to have everything — history, experience, star power, coaching, A-List celebrities — over Orlando.
The Lakers have won 14 titles. Orlando, 0.
The Lakers have won 61 Finals games. Orlando, 0.
Kobe’s hunger for a new title will make the difference.
Today’s free tip for Magic @ Lakers is :