Why the Magic Will Win
Do you believe in Magic? If you’re an ESPN expert the answer is clearly no, as nine of ten believe that the Lakers will soon be celebrating another championship. However, ESPN also hired Bill Simmons, so their credibility is immediately in question (you didn’t think I could blog without one rip on Simmons, did you?).
I have long been an Orlando Magic fan, even when as a kid, my best friend started calling them the “Tragic” after Shaq skipped town. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Magic have reloaded with a new Superman. He’s like the original, only slightly better at shooting free throws and without the disappointing acting (great job portraying a giant basketball player in Blue Chips. You’re truly a chameleon) and rap careers (seriously, a “best of” Shaq album? Is it just a blank CD?).
Without further adieu, here’s why the Magic will win their first NBA championship this year.
1) The man in the middle.
High scoring wing players win games. Great big men win championships. In the past ten years every NBA champion has had a great big man. Kevin Garnett. ShaquilleO’Neal. Tim Duncan/David Robinson. Even the Pistons, with Ben and Rasheed Wallace (Does referring to them like that make them sound like a couple?) had the best defensive interior in the NBA. Not since Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 1998, has a team without a great big won the championship. Dwight Howard has averaged 22 points and 16 boards in the playoffs and the Lakers have no big men who can defend as well as what Howard has already seen in the playoffs.
2) They are the better team.
In Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have the best rapist player in the series. Yet Kobe MUST play well for the Lakers to win. The Magic have won with subpar efforts from Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. They closed out the Sixers on the road when Howard was suspended. Rafer Alston scored 26 in a big win over the Cavs, while Mickael Pietrus has scored in double digits in eight consecutive games. Even Marcin Gortat and Courtney Lee have shown they can contribute in major ways during the playoffs. After losing Game Six against the Howard-less magic, Andre Miller (point guard for the 76ers) said that the Magic are actually better without Howard.
This postseason, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have contributed an average of 47.8 of the Lakers 96.3 points per game, and Kobe has been the leading scorer in all but three of the Lakers’ playoff games. The Magic have had five different players lead the team in scoring this postseason. This makes it much more difficult to shut down the Magic attack.
3) They have nothing to lose.
Since training camp, the question has been whether the Lakers would play the Cavs or the Celtics in the finals. Orlando tried to work itself into the equation but when Jameer Nelson went down with a season-ending injury, the Magic were dropped from the conversation. Nobody expected them to make it this far. They’re playing with house money and all the pressure is on the Lakers.
4) The Regular Season.
Unlike many teams to face the Lakers, the Magic can win in LA – and they have. The Magic were 2-0 against the Lakers this year, and had a 6-3 mark against the Lakers, Celtics, and Cavs combined. They’ve played well on the road. They’ve played well against the western conference. The Magic didn’t just got hot on a playoff run. They’ve been there since the beginning.
5) The Matchups.
Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu create matchup problems for everyone and the Lakers are no different. Can the Lakers really put Gasol on Lewis to start Game One? It looks like that will be their only option. As for Howard, I’m putting the over/under at three minutes until Bynum commits his second foul in the first game. The Lakers sure can’t afford to let Howard go one-on-one with Bynum, yet the Cavs and Celtics found out that double-teaming doesn’t work with so many Magic shooters on the floor. While these mis-matches can create equally difficult matchups on the other end, the Magic have one thing the Lakers don’t: the defensive player of the year guarding the rim. A shot-blocker like Howard can cover upa multitude of defensive mistakes.
My prediction: This series comes down to game seven. Tie score. J.J. Redick out at the top of the key, watching the clock tick down before he makes his move on Adam Morrison. Finally, the real college “player of the year” argument can be settled on the court. We all know how that ends – with Morrison crying though the game isn’t even technically over. Yeah yeah, Morrison isn’t on the playoff roster. But I’m guessing he steals Kobe’s jersey before the game, drops 55 on the Magic, and nobody knows the difference until it’s too late. Just think Rosie Ruiz with a mustache. You heard it here first.
The Magic will steal Game One in Los Angeles and take two-of-three in Orlando before winning Game Six for the championship. Put it on the board.