- Kobe Bryant. This is a given, so I figured I’d get it out of the way. The man is a winner. Unlike Lebron, though, he’s a winner surrounded by other winners. That makes for a winning team.
- Lamar Odom. Lamar is one of those guys who is not built like the average player. His abilities don’t make sense for his body type, and he uses that to exploit defenses in ways they’ve never seen from someone who can also cover a 7 footer on defense.
- Orlando lives AND dies by the three-pointer. L.A. has been pretty beaten up by the inside game of the previous playoff opponents. They have not, however, been beaten at the three point line. Don’t get me wrong here- Dwight Howard is going to have a monster series. You have to accept that and ensure that he’s the ONLY one who does so.
- Hedo Turkoglu is inconsistent. For his size, Hedo is an amazing ball handler. Luckily the Lakers have some equally-talented defenders (Bryant, Ariza, Odom) who could match up against him if it they needed to. Hedo appeared to pace himself against the Cavaliers in order to close out the games in the fourth. I’m sorry, Hedo, but you can save all the energy you want but you still have to out-do the best closer in basketball (yahoo answers is a reliable source for subjective opinion, right?).
- The Lakers can capitalize on a missing Howard. If Howard sits, the Lakers have a clear advantage over his backup, Marcin Gortat. If the Lakers can drive to the basket and get him in foul trouble, Rashard Lewis and Gortat are going to have to work overtime to handle Gasol, Bynum, and Odom.
- Rafer Alston isn’t the ball-handler that Deron Williams is, he’s slower than Aaron Brooks, and he can’t hit shots like Chauncey Billups. The point guard problem from previous playoff series’ is much smaller for the Lakers.
- Courtney Lee is a rookie. Ask any NBA player about their first trip to the NBA finals (if they’ve even gone) and they will all admit it’s a very scary and intimidating event. I expect Courtney Lee to have some nervousness- at least in the first game or two.\
- Home court advantage. The Lake Show knows how to play on the road, but no one can argue that home court advantage doesn’t matter.
- Orlando is just as soft as the Lakers. The Lakers were beat up in their playoff run to the finals. The opponents were manhandling them all over the place. From Harpring to Artest, Carmelo to Dahntay Jones, the Lakers were simply muscled around. Orlando is much more similar to the Lakers in that they are more of a finesse squad than a “brute-force” squad (Howard aside, of course).
- The Bench. The Lakers bench has been inconsistent at best. The Magic don’t really have a bench. Aside from Michael Pietrus, the Magic bench will likely have little affect on the series. The Laker’s bench shows up to play, sometimes. If Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, or Luke Walton have a good game, the Lakers will likely win that game.
For the record, Mikael Pietrus has fast-become one of my favorite non-Lakers. He is a huge asset to any organization who can get their hands on him (hint hint, Lakers administrative office).
Topics: Aaron Brooks, Andrew Bynum, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Playoffs, Ron Artest, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown