Monday, June 1, 2009

2009 NBA Finals: Can The Lakers Stop Dwight?

Now that the dust has settled on the Eastern Conference Finals (boo hoo, no LeBron v Kobe, despite David Stern's best efforts), I'm really embracing the Magic as the most likable underdog in recent memory. And it's interesting to consider how the Lakers might try to handle Superman.

Gasol stressed the matchup with Howard will be as much about what the Lakers can make the Orlando center do on defense as about L.A.’s ability to defend him.

“What Cleveland didn’t have, I think, is an inside presence that could put them in jeopardy and give (the Cavs) that balance,” Gasol said. “They didn’t have that balance of an inside and outside game. We do have that, and I think we will be a tougher matchup.

As a former half-decent baller myself, I can confirm that having a massive, talented big man (as opposed to a flat footed 7 footer who got talked into playing when they were 14) is a HUGE piece of the winning puzzle. But at the NBA Finals level, where no matter how dominant you are the other team will figure you out over 7 games, I think it's going to be about who steps up to support Dwight. My money's on Rashard Lewis, who has emerged as an amazing clutch player.

There's also a possiblity that injured All-Star guard Jameer Nelson will come back and provide an extra punch for The Magic, but would that do more harm than good at this stage?

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