The Lakers 101-96 Overtime victory over the Magic tonight does not mean the series is over, but it puts the Magic in an incredibly difficult position. The Lakers dominated the Magic in game 1, and while neither team played well in game 2, the Lakers ultimately prevailed.
These have been the keys to the Lakers’ victories in games 1 and 2.
1. it sounds clichéd, but Kobe Bryant. he has distributed the ball well early in the game and has dominated the end of both games. Magic guard Mikael Pietrus has had to expend a ton of energy guarding Bryant, which may have resulted his diminishing offensive play.
2. Lakers bigs have dominated Orlando’s. Orlando beat Cleveland largely due to the immense mismatches of whichever players were guarding Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Both players are 6 10 and can shoot threes, and the Lakers have Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza, all players who are tall enough and quick enough to cover them on the outside. Gasol has been huge inside in both games. Bynum and Gasol have also held Dwight Howard to poor offensive showings.
3. the Lakers have had much better guard play. Fisher, Ariza and Bryant have outperformed Alston and Lee and Pietrus.
Here are things the Magic need to do, otherwise the series will be over quickly:
1. Dwight Howard needs to play better inside. He has been too quick to pass the ball out if he senses a double team coming. He should go right at Bynum and Gasol and try to get either of them in early foul trouble. The Magic offense is at its finest when he is scoring down low, which eventually opens up the outside game.
2. The Magic need to have a much higher shooting percentage, including from 3. Rashard Lewis played very well, but Alston, Lee and Pietrus need to play better. Pietrus was unstoppable versus the Cavs, and he has not shown up thus far. Alston has also failed to be a factor whatsoever, and needs to improve his play.
3. The Magic need to play better defense down low against Gasol and Odom. Bynum has not done much, but Gasol has carved up anyone guarding him, and Odom has been getting a lot more points down low. The Lakers are at their best when their inside game is working, and the Magic need to disrupt this.
If the Magic dont make changes fast, Kobe will have his 4th ring faster than Shaq can utter a single insult against him.