Here are today's Lakers Links:
Silver Screen and Roll:
Enemy at the Gates: An In-Depth Statistical Preview of the NBA Finals - Silver Screen and Roll:
My goal here is to stare longingly at the advanced statistics involving the Lakers and Magic in the hope of finding things you might not already know about these two teams.
- Loitering in the parking lot two days before tipoff — The View from Orlando - Silver Screen and Roll
Lakers/Magic: When The Magic Have The Ball:
There’s a lot of talk about the Lakers needing to defend the three to win the series. There is validity to that but this is something the Lakers can do — they have the lowest three-point field goal against percentage in the playoffs. But when the Orlando Magic have the ball there are two real actions the Lakers need to stop.
Tale of the Tape:
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics" – Twain As we have four days to ponder, evaluate, fret, puff, antagonize, argue, morally lecture – and generally do the types of things fans do when they’ve been walking an emotional tightrope for six months and the end goal is within sight – let’s take the time to analyze the tale of the tape.
20 Second Timeout:
Los Angeles Versus Orlando Preview:
The Lakers have homecourt advantage and a hungry superstar with championship experience who presents a serious matchup problem for the Magic; those factors will be the primary reasons that the Lakers will prevail.
Kobe Bryant's NBA Finals Resume:
Kobe Bryant is about to make his sixth NBA Finals appearance in the past decade, more than Shaquille O'Neal (five) or Tim Duncan (three since 2000, four overall). If Bryant's L.A. Lakers win the championship he will own more rings (four) than Larry Bird (three) and only trail Magic Johnson (five) by one. Here is a look at Bryant's NBA Finals resume:
Ball Don't Lie
Finals pick? Lakers in six
So when I figure in Los Angeles' offense (at its best, the best in the NBA; too often it is not at its best) going against the league's best defense, I can't call it a wash. If run properly, I still think that Lakers can really it take it to the Orlando D for enough stretches to pull out a series of close wins. It really does depend on that offense. If they don't run it properly, and Dwight Howard(notes) has the lay of the land, then the Lakers deserve to be out. Quickly. Because if the Lakers aren't running their offense properly, they turn out to be a pretty good team. And you can beat a pretty good team four times in four or five tries.
Let's assume they run it properly. Let's say, four wins in six games for the Lakers. Sounds about right. We'll see where that ends up.
(Huh? Did I miss something? Since when did Orlando become the NBA's best defensive team?)
Click on through after the jump for MUCH MORE...
The OC Register:
Three keys to the NBA Finals - OCRegister.com
Lakers reporter Kevin Ding analyzes best-of-seven series that starts Thursday
Phil Jackson’s summation: "I feel very good about this series" - Lakers blog - OCRegister.com
Jackson said he has focused on details more than last year to make sure the Lakers are better prepared.
Bynum hopes to be the next Kendrick Perkins (for now) - Lakers blog - OCRegister.com
...Bynum likes to stay attached and bang with other big guys instead of being pulled away from the basket, and putting and keeping a body on Howard is a key issue. Bynum has been watching footage of how Boston’s Kendrick Perkins did it in the second round to limit Howard to 16.4 points per game.
(Most people are picking the Lakers to win in 6, but if Bynum and Pau can stifle Dwight Howard, this series will not go past 5. While I'm not sure Howard can be held in check every game, I think Andrew and Pau are going to surprise a lot of people in this series.)
Bryant becomes a polarizing figure - OCRegister.com
Love him or hate him? The answer is pretty easy for fans not rooting for the Lakers.
LA Daily News:
Lakers' Bynum has big Finals examination - LA Daily News
Here are two important things one should know about Bynum on the eve of Game 1 of the Finals.
Time in Orlando for Lakers' Ariza not so magical - LA Daily News
His time there feels like a lifetime ago. His career having blossomed in the sunshine of Los Angeles this season, and particularly this spring during his star-making turn in the playoffs. Trevor Ariza isn't the sentimental type, so he doesn't often think back on his days in Orlando as a member of the Magic. But with six days between the Western Conference finals and the start of the NBA Finals Thursday night, there has been no escaping, or ignoring the issue.
Between Magic center Howard and former Lakers center O'Neal, who is the real Superman? - LA Daily News
They sound a bit like two bickering 8-year-olds in the backyard, bed sheets tied around their necks. "I'm Superman!" "No, I'm Superman!"
(Who cares. Kobe can defeat two Superman(s) in one shot? We should start calling Kobe "Doomsday.")
With Van Gundys, ABC could face brother of all objectivity issues during NBA Finals - LA Daily News
The NBA needs the stench of another conspiracy theory circulating through its offices like LeBron James needs another lecture about good sportsmanship. Which is why, if someone on David Stern's payroll really thinks this through in the next day or so, they'll ask ABC to politely ask Jeff Van Gundy take a seat in the stands for the NBA Finals rather than courtside with a microphone.
(Nevermind that Stan is his brother, how about removing him and Mark Jackson because they aren't good anymore. Give us Hubie.)
NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant has a golden opportunity - ESPN
Although he says, "I can play at a high level for another six years at least," I get the sense he's aware that this could be it, that there's no guarantee he'll arrive at such an opportune place again.
Mitch Kupchak: Lakers Plenty Tough - TrueHoop By Henry Abbott - ESPN
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tells Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that his team showed a lot in the series against Denver:
Orlando Magic players: Point guard Jameer Nelson to play in NBA Finals - ESPN
Nelson participated in a full team practice Tuesday for the first time since tearing the labrum in his right shoulder Feb. 2. While Nelson and coach Stan Van Gundy still said the point guard's status won't be determined until game day, players said Nelson looked "terrific" and expect him to be on the court against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mickael Pietrus of Orlando Magic ditching Kobe Bryant-endorsed sneakers for finals - ESPN
Pietrus is ditching his Kobe kicks for something a little more old school, according to the report. "I have [Kobe shoes ] at my house, but I'm going to play with Michael Jordan shoes," Pietrus said, the newspaper reported.
(Pietrus defended LeBron well when it counted in Kobe's sneakers. Hey Michael, this happened last time MJ played Kobe.... "It's gotta be the shoes" )
NBA commissioner David Stern reaching out to LeBron James on media snub - ESPN
NBA commissioner David Stern says he has reached out to LeBron James about James' refusal to speak with the media after the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated from the Eastern Conference finals. But Stern is withholding judgment and not ready to makes his views on the incident public until he talks to James about what happened, he said Tuesday on ESPN Radio.
President Barack Obama picks Los Angeles Lakers to win NBA crown - ESPN
Said the smiling president of the best-of-seven series: "Lakers in six, I think." The series begins Thursday. So far so good this year for Obama. A huge basketball fan, he correctly predicted that that the University of North Carolina men's basketball team would win the NCAA championship.
(The President wants to meet Kobe.)
The TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown Community Leaderboard - TrueHoop By Henry Abbott - ESPN
(Lakers bloggers are smarter than everybody else.)
Bill Simmons: NBA Finals preview for Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic - ESPN
(Of course, this is highlighted by Bill making excuses for LeBron.)
Rafer Alston, Pau Gasol could foil best-laid NBA Finals plans - Chris Ballard - SI.com
The other option, of course, is to play everyone straight up, but as long as Kobe and Dwight are on the floor, that's unlikely to happen. Which means someone will get a chance...
Pau Gasol could mute Dwight Howard's dominance in NBA Finals - Chris Mannix - SI.com
But freed from the pressures of being the franchise player in Memphis, Gasol has shown some improvement on defense. And in Gasol's case, offense may help his defense. In the Magic's march to the Finals, Howard hasn't had to be much of a one-on-one defender. Perkins and Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert are limited offensively, and Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas was strictly a perimeter player in the East finals. As a result, Howard has been free to roam on the defensive end, conserving valuable energy to remain active on offense. He won't have that option against Gasol.
Derek Fisher's value to Lakers transcends statistics - Arash Markazi - SI.com
Pick up a stat sheet after a Lakers playoff game and it would be easy to single out Derek Fisher for criticism. In the twilight of a 13-year career, Fisher is clearly a player who has lost a step on defense and his touch on offense. Yet, the numbers don't tell the story of his true significance to his team. They never have.
Dwight Howard can learn plenty from Kobe Bryant in NBA Finals - Ian Thomsen - SI.com
To watch Bryant perform at the top of his game this season is to see a singular talent who finally looks comfortable in his own skin. If he is a leader who understands better how to relate to his teammates and bring out their qualities in pursuit of his ultimate goal -- to go down among the greatest while winning championships in different eras -- that is a talent that was not God-given. He has earned that one.
Philadelphia schoolboy Kobe Bryant is headed straight for - 05.06.96 - SI Vault
On Monday at 2:25 p.m., the final bell rang at Lower Merion High, in the leafy suburbs of Philadelphia, and the school's gymnasium, a museum piece circa 1964, began to fill. Boys with knapsacks on their backs scurried up the bleachers, and girls with lacrosse sticks in their hands sat cross-legged on the hardwood floor. Teachers, feigning disinterest, filled the gym's double doors. The school's athletic director, wearing his best suit and tie, tested the microphone. ...On Monday at 2:35 p.m., in the same gym where he scored more schoolboy basketball points than anybody will remember, an amiable prodigy named Kobe Bryant, 17 years old, announced his plans for the future. ..."I've decided to skip college and take my talent to the NBA," Bryant said.
(I remember a lot of people being turned off by young Kobe when he announced his decision, including myself. "Another high schooler? Who is this kid? " Then he became a Laker. It started with that ESPN highlight of him dunking, preening for the camera, an the sunglasses while announcing. It was very easy for me to convert. A lot of people haven't.)
The New York Times:
Kobe Bryant Is Still Searching for a Rival - NYTimes.com
The rivalry between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James has never been more heated, at least in the alternate universe created by advertisers who were banking on a certain N.B.A. finals showdown. Except that the real-life LeBron and his Cleveland Cavaliers just got bounced from the playoffs, and it will be the Orlando Magic that faces Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers for the championship. The real-life Kobe stands alone, where he has always been. A rival? In 13 seasons, Bryant has never had one.
(Thank you! Has anyone noticed that ALL players are compared to Kobe, from Wince, to T-Pain, Dwyane and LeBron, they are all put up against Kobe and compared to MJ, and only Kobe stands tall time and again, for 13 years. Who's next?)
In the N.B.A., ‘Flagrant’ Is a Matter of Interpretation - NYTimes.com
A nagging question is dominating the N.B.A. playoffs, and it has nothing to do with who will win the championship. The question: When is a flagrant foul not a flagrant foul? The answer: When it is changed the next day.
'Orlando In 7' Is Probably Not Happening -- NBA FanHouse
Over at the Magic blog Third Quarter Collapse, they did a little research as to what's happened since the league went to its current 2-3-2 format for the Finals. One of the things they found out was that since 1985 when this format was started, only three times was the team with the home court advantage pushed to a seventh game. And the home team won the Game 7 every single time.
Will the Real Stern Please Stand Up? -- NBA FanHouse
OK, the fact that David Stern did nothing to give us an NBA Finals with LeBron and Kobe is messing with my mind. Admit it. You're tripping, too.
NBA Puppets: Nike to Continue Kobe, LeBron Puppet Ads Through Finals - Sports Biz with Darren Rovell - CNBC.com
In what might seem like a shocking move to some, Nike will continue to run commercials featuring the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James puppets. This despite the fact that James, unlike Bryant, isn't playing in the Finals after his team—the Cleveland Cavaliers—was eliminated by the Orlando Magic.
SLAM ONLINE | " Finals Exam
SLAM goes behind the scenes with the ESPN crew.
Western Conference Final Observations « dEDGE
The Los Angeles Lakers embark on their quest for a 15th NBA championship in a Finals series showdown against the surprising Orlando Magic. But before we turn all attention towards this marquee match-up, let’s spend a few minutes reliving and relishing in our Western Conference Finals victory over the Denver Nuggets with these final observations.
The B.S. Report
(Bill Simmons with Jerry West. I haven't listened yet, but I'm willing to bet Bill makes no mention of his moronic Kobe thoughts. If he does, betcha he'll back down easy, as he always does when he gets called out on some of his less-than-smart opinions.)
ESPN's Mike Tirico, Hube Brown and Jack Ramsey Finals Preview
(I wouldn't mind Mike and Hubie ANNOUNCING the TV broadcast. I wish the feed wasn't too slow on radio, or I would mute the TV.)