It's finally here. A second chance for Kobe to fulfill his destiny and and for the Lakers to find redemption. We've waited and debated for a whole year for the chance that the Lakers to prove that they are the best team in basketball.
My prediction is Lakers in 5. Five tight, competitive games.
Why 5? If Pau has a good series, and Andrew has a decent series, then I expect things to get easy for the Lakers. I know that the Magic are supposedly the best defensive team in the NBA (according to stats), but are they the kind defense that bothers the Lakers? As good as Dwight is, he's not the the Kendrick Perkins/Chuck Hayes tree stump, low center of gravity type of defender that gives Pau (and Bynum) problems. I expect Pau to have success, and if the offense is run through the post as it should be. It'll make everyone's life easier. Pau early, Kobe late, and everyone else in between. If Dwight does contain either Andrew or Pau, then the other must step up. I expect to score 100+ points per game, but we need to limit them on offense, and again, we must start with Dwight Howard. Bynum must use his strength and length to bother Dwight. He's strong enough to bang, and tall enough to bother Dwight's jump hook. If he gives us defense, the offense will come. It's time to for 'Drew to earn his money.
Get D12 complaining about touches again, and the series is ours.
Let's get it on.
Here are your Lakers Links:
Silver Screen and Roll:
NBA Finals Preview: An Author Round Table
To round out our series of previews' from every angle, we finish this up with an Author Round Table, bringing together all of our authors' key thoughts on the series that begins tonight. We've got plenty to say... but what do you expect? It's the Finals!
Forum Blue And Gold:
Lakers/Magic: When The Lakers Have The Ball
This should be an entertaining side of the ball – the Lakers high powered offense against the best defensive team in the NBA during the regular season.
Much more after the jump...
The Los Angeles Times:
Lakers seek not just NBA title but redemption
They lost Game 6 in dubious fashion, the 39-point differential being the largest in a clinching game in NBA Finals history and the second-largest margin overall for any Finals game. The Lakers were labeled "soft" when they withered from the physical pounding delivered by the Celtics.The Lakers say they refused to run from their suffering; rather, it become their motivation this season, what drove them through 82 regular-season games and 18 playoff games and pushed them to seek redemption. ...The Lakers cannot forget what happened against Boston; no one will let them.
This is all about Kobe vs. Kobe
The next two weeks offer the chance for a remake, a chance for the star to open himself up both on and off the court, embracing not only a city but an entire nation of sports fans eager to grant him both immortality and humanity. It's the chance of a lifetime, maybe the last chance of his lifetime, and here's hoping that star will finally take advantage of it.
Analyze this? OK, he will
Happily, they start the NBA Finals tonight in the nick of time, before anyone drops dead from analysis and coverages of breaking stories . . .
Don't beat L.A.! Join us!
Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.! Why does everyone want to beat L.A. all of a sudden? I don't get all this "Beat L.A." stuff, even as the chant seems to grow in arenas and ballparks around the nation. You hear it in Portland. You hear it in Boston. We hear it from that little bunny hutch of Orlando.Orlando.It's as if we've become the Evil Empire, or the shiny Russian dude in "Rocky IV." In the near corner, Los Angeles. In the far corner, the world. Beat L.A.!!!!!!!
Not quite what they had in mind
Who knew Orlando's Dwight Howard (a.k.a. Superman) would end up pulling the puppet strings, and yank LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers right out of their supposedly preordained spot in the NBA Finals against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
The Orange County Register:
Lakers ready to get physical with Orlando
The Orlando Magic are here with their nice passing and sweet shooting, and the Lakers know just the way to disrupt that kind of clockwork offense. It’s exactly what the Boston Celtics did to them a year ago and what the Denver Nuggets did early in the recent Western Conference finals. Let’s get physical.
Ariza and Bynum are willing to score, defend or bash skulls to win this thing
Rashard Lewis is a highly skilled player, but the bulk of the Orlando offense is run through Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard. That makes the men who start out guarding them — Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum — pivotal in setting a tone for the NBA Finals. Here are their plans …
Pietrus a Kobe devotee, especially after the gift Kobe gave his son
Mickael Pietrus is a Kobe guy. Not only has Pietrus long admired Bryant’s game, he feels indebted because Bryant autographed his game-worn sneakers from the Magic-Lakers game at Staples Center on Jan. 16 as a gift for Pietrus’ son.
The LA Daily News:
Versatile, sharp-shooting Magic present matchup problems
Orlando's blueprint is so simple, but stopping it is like trying to break the Da Vinci Code. ...It all seems so uncomplicated, yet the Orlando Magic is nothing if not unique.
Lakers seeking redemption, no matter who the opponent
The Lakers don't care that the Kobe Bryant- LeBron James match-up fizzled. They don't give a flip that the Nike ad wizards must find a new angle. They have no sympathy for James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are not disappointed to be playing the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. And they really could care less that the Boston Celtics flamed out. It's all about the Lakers now.
For Lakers' success, Jackson, Bryant get in on two-for-one deal
Fate and circumstance have brought them together, with basketball as both their bond and salve, helping to repair a relationship that once seemed entirely broken, but could now take them to a place they both must go, and could not have gone alone.
NBA Finals: Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Lakers scouting report
Scouts Inc. breaks down the NBA Finals between the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, then picks the winner.
NBA Finals: Can Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard avoid technical fouls?
Looking for the X factor in the NBA Finals? It might just be the T factor. Just imagine Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard missing a Finals game through suspension because they've rung up too many technical fouls throughout the playoffs. That first-of-its-kind scenario is actually not hard to imagine, amazingly, because Bryant and Howard are tied for the league lead this postseason with five T's each.
NBA Finals: Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard determined to make most of Finals trip
In four seasons, Dwight Howard and the Magic have grown into contenders. But the 23-year-old phenom won't let the bright lights of the Finals get in the way of a title.
N.B.A. Finals - In Lakers’ March to Finals, Bynum Remains an Enigma - New York Times
There is a paradox that goes with being Andrew Bynum, the Los Angeles Lakers’ young center. His name has become both synonymous and burdened with the word potential, and his talent occasionally veers between prodigious and puzzling.
Hardwood Paroxysm " Blog Archive " The Weekly Nichols: What the Regular Season Can Tell Us
Among the many reasons the Magic were able to defeat the Cavaliers was the simple fact that they match up so well against them. Orlando’s style and personnel was the right combination for beating a team that was so dominant in the regular season. This was manifested in the season results between the two teams. Similarly, Orlando was 2-0 against the Lakers. Does that mean we should pencil them in for the championship? How much do matchups matter and how important are prior regular season results?
Howard Stars In New Vitaminwater Spot - Sports Biz with Darren Rovell - CNBC.com
Sick of hearing the Kobe vs. LeBron debate in ads by Nike and Vitaminwater, Dwight Howard, a Vitaminwater spokesman himself, called the brand's chief marketing officer Rohan Oza and told him that when the Magic made the finals he wanted his own ad.
Here it is:
This matchup of stars is still super
While the highly anticipated Kobe-LeBron confrontation didn't come to pass, with the extraordinary skills of Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant on display over the course of the next few days/weeks, this tradition will necessarily be perpetuated. Of course, it's impossible to compare the respective talents of these two superstars since they play different positions, have different responsibilities, and will rarely if ever battle face-to-face. It would be like trying to compare a pitcher and a designated hitter. Still, Bryant and Howard will compete with each other to determine who will put his own personal stamp on the series. ...Kobe presents a much more difficult puzzle to solve than did LeBron. If LBJ would either launch long jumpers, or else power and spin his way to the hoop, he lacks an effective pull-up game. On the other hand, Kobe is a far better shooter than LeBron, is an excellent finisher, and also has a middle game that's second to none. Stopping and popping left, right, shooting after fading, spinning, and ducking under — Kobe can do it all. Which means that forcing him in any one direction is a useless exercise. Let's take a close look at both of these two elite players to examine what to expect from them, and how they each might be defended.
NBA Truths: Why the Lakers are in trouble
One thing I've learned throughout the NBA playoffs is that pro basketball is in need of the Truth. With that in mind, I present to you a Finals version of NBA Truths that will, among other things, explain to you why I believe the Orlando Magic will be crowned NBA champions ... in six games.
Ball Don't Lie:
Underrating underratedness: The Hedo Turkoglu story
There are differences between the terms underrated and inappropriately-rated, especially as they relate to hindsight — one is susceptible to it and the other is not. For years the man has been one of the most effective basketball players in the NBA, but unfortunately, he will never share the recognition of teammate Dwight Howard(notes) or sidekick counterparts like Josh Howard(notes) or Pau Gasol(notes).
Lakers, Kobe Bryant looking to rewrite legacies in NBA Finals
SI.com NBA writers analyze the storylines and matchups in this year's Finals.
Phil Jackson could pass Red Auerbach for most coaching titles - Jack McCallum
Over the next couple of weeks, those sounds you could be hearing throughout New England and the far-flung terrain of Celtics Nation are roiling stomachs, gnashing teeth and perhaps even full-throated howls. For if the Lakers subdue the Magic in the NBA Finals -- it says here that they will, though it will not be easy, and keep in mind that I picked the Lakers over the Celtics in 2008 so what do I know -- Phil Jackson will have surpassed the late Red Auerbach for most coaching championships won. Jackson 10, Red 9.
Patton: Jackson's last hurrah? PE.com
He is the thinking man's coach, inscrutable, one who reveals little of himself. Even as the Hall of Famer leads his team into the NBA Finals against Orlando tonight, with a personal record 10th championship waiting to be plucked, he remains mum about his future with the Lakers.
SLAM ONLINE | " NBA Finals Preview
Do you believe in Magic?
2009 NBA Finals Predictions
7 writers pick the Lakers, 5 pick the Magic
Are the Magic Just Hot?
An argument spreading through the American consciousness (and one in which I admittedly fell into toward the end of the Eastern Conference Finals) is that these plucky, lucky Magic are just "hot." A good -- maybe very good -- team who happened to start hitting threes at an unbelievable rate right around the end of the Celtics series. But Orlando has been hitting gobs of threes all season. Are the Magic shooters any "hotter" now than they have been the rest of the year? Nope. Something marks like me failed to notice in advance of Orlando's mystical destruction of Cleveland was that even though the Magic have hit shots at an unbelievable rate since Game 7 of the Boston series, this isn't entirely without precedent.
Lakers.com Finals Media Day: