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Magic/Lakers Gm 1 Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 06/03/2009

Orlando Matchup Advantage Again?

Los Angeles is 8-2 at home in the playoffs, adding to its 36-5 record at home during the regular season. One of those home losses came against Orlando and as a matter of fact, the Lakers were swept by the Magic this season. This is sounding awfully familiar to the scenario that Orlando had against Cleveland as it dominated the Cavaliers this season due to advantages across the floor.

Cleveland did not have a supporting cast to go along with LeBron James but the Lakers in fact do have a much better balanced team than the Cavaliers. The Lakers also have Andrew Bynum who can give Dwight Howard some trouble and overall, the Lakers are a much better rebounding team than Orlando, especially on the offensive end. The two losses by the Lakers during the regular season can be attributed to bad shooting as they shot only 40.6 percent (73-180) from the floor.

Teams make adjustments and there will no doubt be adjustments made by one of the games greatest coaches ever in Phil Jackson. The most recent of those victories came almost five months ago and regular season wins can mean little. You can ask the Cavaliers if that holds true. However, Orlando is playing with a ton of confidence and that cannot be discounted.

Tinsel Town Experience

We all know the history of the Lakers and how they have won 14 World Championships throughout the years. However that is not the experience I am referring to. The Lakers were in the NBA Finals last season and that alone is worth some value for Los Angeles. The fact that it lost to the Celtics four games to two put a bad taste in the mouths of the team and making matters worse was the 39-point drubbing in the closeout game.

All NBA teams that are in the Finals are not going to go out without a fight but something says that the Lakers are going to be more focused because of what happened last season as they are out to prove something. In last year’s NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant didn’t play particularly well, averaging 25.7 ppg which is solid but it came on less than 41 percent shooting which is far from good.

“It makes you tougher,â€쳌 said Bryant of this year’s playoff mediocrity and last season’s championship loss. “It makes you have to dig deep. ... You deal with the controversy and the criticism. All those things make you a better team.â€쳌 It's quite possible this young Orlando team will be a little awed on the game's biggest stage, especially having to open twice in Los Angeles.

The Nelson Effect

It looks as though Jameer Nelson will be in uniform for Orlando for the NBA Finals. Does that make the Magic a better team now? I personally do not think so. His backup Rafer Alston played a great series against Cleveland so any change of chemistry that won that series is a bad move on the part of the Magic. Not to mention, Nelson will be way behind in regard to timing, shooting and overall continuity with his team.

I say if he actually does play, it will benefit the Lakers more than Orlando in this first game. He has already added some fuel to the fire. “I'm not saying I'm any tougher or stronger than anybody, but I've been known to do some amazing things sometimes,â€쳌 he said. His leadership will no doubt be beneficial but it is highly unlikely he can repeat what he did during the regular season.

A lot of people are looking at the numbers he put up in the regular season in two games against Los Angeles. Nelson led the Magic in both games, averaging 27.5 ppg while shooting a combined 20-34 from the field including 7-12 from beyond the three-point line. The rest he has had will mean fresh legs but it also means poor stamina. As far as rest goes, the Lakers needed it and got it and playing only their 2nd game in seven days this season, they are 8-1 ATS.

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