NBA Finals Preview

After leaving narcissus staring into his own reflection – er – beating Lebron and some other guys – er – defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic have advanced to the NBA Finals. Speaking of the Biggest Losers, Shaquille O’Neal is in for an unfortunate result. Waiting for the Magic are Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

When Shaq was the Superman in Orlando, he only managed to lead Orlando to a Finals sweep courtesy of the Houston Rockets. Thank God Nick Anderson is making pre-game introductions this time… as opposed to, not-making in-game free-throws. If the new Superman can lead the Magic to anything beyond a sweep, he cements his Superhero Status, and if he can bring home a title…

After Orlando, Shaq teamed up with Kobe to build a new chapter of the Laker dynasty. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar claims to have slept with over 9,000 women, but rumors say Kobe and Shaq gave his legend a run for it’s money. Oh, and they won three titles together. Today though, Kareem is mentoring the young Andrew Bynum. Judging by the photos of Bynum at the Playboy mansion, one could reason he is well on his way to rejuvenating the dynasty again.

Since Shaq left, Kobe has not won a title. There have been more than bitter words exchanged between the two, but the only way for Kobe to gain redemption against the Big Aristotle is to win a title on his own. For anyone who has watched the Lakers, they know that is the only way the Lakers will win one – with Kobe doing it on his own.

Although Nike and their Lebron puppet are probably reeling in the wake of a near sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals, basketball minds realize that the NBA is in for a Finals clash between two titans. Word has it the Lebron puppet is actually in California. Unfortunately, it’s said he’s in the Betty Ford clinic; something about a problem with a white powdery substance.

Is one of those Nike commercials a missing scene from Blow?

Basketball minds have now come to a consensus that Orlando and LA are the two best teams in the NBA, it took them a while to decide that, but now that the two teams are in the Finals, many experts are confident that they are the teams to beat. The Orlando/LA off-court stuff is fun, but what really counts are 12 guys. Six guys in blue, six guys in yellow. The following breaks down what the 12 ballers who will make the NBA Finals fate for themselves:

Lakers

Kobe Bryant

Kobe gave himself a nickname. That’s probably enough to be the most hated guy on the floor, but the three rings and cold-demeanor have some influence too. The “Black Mamba” as he has taken to calling himself is in for a treat. No one on the Magic can stop him, no one can slow him down. They may have locked Lebron down, but that’s not Kobe. When Lebron hit his sweep-saving three pointer to win Game Two, he freaked out. He went crazy in a jubilant celebration. He deserved the celebration. The problem, was that his eyes let everyone know he had no idea he would actually make that shot. Kobe knows he can make that shot.

Kobe will work at will on the Magic. Dwight Howard will not be nearly the factor he was against Lebron because Kobe is more reluctant to drive. Defensively Kobe could make a huge difference if he ends up playing Hedo Turkoglu. Watch for Turkoglu’s field goal percentage to plummet if Kobe is on him.

The good news for the Magic: we learned last year Kobe is more than willing to quite in the middle of the Finals.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Star Trek – Cold, calculating, half-human. If he isn’t Spock…

Pau Gasol

Pau will combine forces with Hedo to make children even more afraid of trolls. Basketball is great in HD, but this guy makes fans long for the days of bunny ears. He actually ended up on the Grizzlies because he thought it was a support group for Spaniards mistaken for beasts.

Gasol’s game relies heavily on his athleticism. His 18.9 points per game season average is largely because he can shoot an outside jump shot and drive the lane better than most power forwards. Unfortunately, Rashard Lewis can do those things too, and is more athletic. If Gasol can hit at least 15 points a game, the Lakers will have a huge edge in the series. With Lewis guarding, he probably can’t do it. His athleticism is neutralized.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Year One – He looks like a caveman

Andrew Bynum

I don’t want to say that Bynum is soft, but there’s a YouTube clip of the girl in Twilight posting him up. There’s even been talk of benching him in favor of Pau Gasol attempting to guard Howard. Gasol guarding Howard is a recipe for Superman’s 40-point special. The fact that anyone could even start a rumor about that speaks to Bynum’s ineptitude.

All that being said, Bynum has had huge games. NBA-most-dominant-center kind of huge games. If Bynum has a couple of those nights, the Magic could be in big trouble. Those nights could easily happen if Howard gets into early foul trouble

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Final Destination 4: This guy is an over-hyped big-man doomed to fail. We’ve seen it before.

Lamar Odom

We know, he eats a lot of candy. It probably has nothing to do with how he plays. What sweet tooth is an indicator of is that Odom is Buddy the Elf’s half-brother. Think about it, Odom is a really nice guy. Buddy is a really nice guy. Odom is originally from New York. Buddy is originally from New York. Odom eats candy like he’s ET. Buddy eats candy like he’s ET. It’s really not that far-fetched.

Maybe because he is an Elf, maybe for some other reason – whatever the case, Odom is very inconsistent. In fact, the only guy less likely to show up in a big situation is Tony Romo.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: G.I. Joe – Seems really good, probably going to be a disappointment.

Derek Fisher

The Fish is past his prime. If Jameer comes back he’s going to have big problems on defense. If he faces Rafer Alston, it’s still a mismatch. Offensively, he’s really a non-factor. His veteran experience probably counts for six to eight big shots.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Spiderman 2 – He was a big deal in 2004

Trevor Ariza

The Magic kept Turkoglu instead, was it the right choice? Ariza is shooting lights-out from three right now and if he keeps it up, maybe the Magic are destined to be burned again – cough – Ben Wallace – cough – Chauncy Billups – cough – a bunch of other former Magic players who went on to win rings elsewhere after being traded or let go.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: X-Men Origins: Wolverine – The Magic probably don’t know what they let get away, now he’s back for revenge.

Magic

Dwight Howard

He is Superman. Like Superman, he may be too nice to get it done when it counts. Dwight smiles too much for an intimidating big man, not to mention he’s being coached by Patrick Ewing. The same Ewing who won NBA titles in… oh wait, Ewing never won anything that mattered.

Gasol can’t guard him. Bynum can’t guard him. If he can make his free-throws, he could score 30 a game. Defensively, he will be huge if he can keep Kobe out of the paint and limit Bynum and Gasol to below their averages. Three blocks a game may be the difference between winning and losing the series.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Up – Lots of smiles, lots of airtime.

Jameer Nelson

Jameer Nelson is someone we haven’t heard from in the playoffs. Partly because he’s too short to reach the microphone, and partly because he’s been wearing a suit. Nelson has been practicing and if he can come back to average 25 or 30 against LA like he did in the regular season, the Magic will win the NBA Title.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – He’s the little guy with a lot of power.

Rashard Lewis

Rashard Lewis looks like T.I. Every time the rapper T.I.’s picture is shown on the news while they speak of weapons charges and jail time, Magic fans must be worried it’s Lewis. That’s whose picture they’re showing. Does Lewis smile? Maybe. But probably not.

Lewis was brought in with a giant contract to hit big threes when Howard sucks in the defense. As much as the offense is built around Dwight inside, it is built around Lewis outside. In previous games, Lewis has shown he feels no fear to take big shots. If he continues to shoot with precision during critical moments, he could go down in finals history.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Terminator Salvation – He plays like a machine in the fourth quarter.

Hedo Turkoglu

No, that isn’t John Merrick, it’s Hedo Turkoglu. How did Quasimodo straighten his back out? He didn’t, that’s Hedo. Did Darth Vader take off the mask? Nope. Did an unhealthy obsession with a ring do that? No.

Turk has been the key to the Orlando offense, especially late in games. If Kobe guards Hedo, look for him to drive much less. If Jameer is able to provide a driving threat, Hedo will get more open three-point looks. If Hedo shoots 50% from downtown in a game, the Magic will win that game.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Land of the Lost – Like Will Ferrell, looking in his eyes would lead one to believe he has no idea what is going on. There’s 12 seconds left, Magic down by one, he’s getting the shot and he comes out of the timeout huddle laughing like he heard a dirty joke.

Courtney Lee

If Derrick Rose wasn’t unbelievable, we would think he’s the best rookie in the league. Yeah, he’s just a rookie. Dwight broke his sinuses, but he came back with a mask on and beat up Rajon Rondo on the way to the finals. Against Lebron, fearless. It will be interesting to see if the rookie can handle a vet like Kobe. Against Lebron, he played like he had no idea who he was – which was a good thing. Against Kobe, he better recognize or he will pay.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Megan Fox is hot. Uhhh…

Mickael Pietrus

Magic General Manager Otis Smith knew Mickael Pietrus from their time together with the Golden State Warriors. During the offseason, Smith signed Pietrus who was injured much of the season and never really came into relevance until the playoffs. MP, or Air France (probably going to drop that nickname) as he is often referred will be the lockdown defender sharing Kobe duty with Lee.

His first and last names are pronounced either mick-hi-elle, my-call, or mi-ki-yell and pee-ay-truss, pee-uh-truce, peeya-truss, or pee-truss. Just know that with any of those combinations MP is whom they’re referring to.

Summer blockbuster he is most like: Bruno – Crazy European making people uncomfortable, mostly on defense.

Orlando and Los Angeles should be an interesting series. For the Lakers, Gasol will play a huge role in determining their fate. Although if Odom and Bynum each have a big game, that would likely make up for a less-stellar Gasol. For the Magic, if Howard can stay out of foul trouble and be dominant offensively, even to a lesser degree than he was in Game Six, the Magic will win this series.

The Finals schedule is 2 (LA) – 3 (ORL) – 2 (LA). This is a huge factor in the flow of the series. My picks:

Game 1: Lakers 104, Magic 101

Game 2: Lakers 112, Magic 95

Game 3: Magic 98, Lakers 94

Game 4: Magic 108, Lakers 100

Game 5: Magic 113, Lakers 112 (OT)

Game 6: Magic 97, Lakers 95


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