Well, that Magic team that played the Lakers sure didn’t seem like the one the Cavs saw, now did it? I only watched the first 2.5 quarters of the game (oddly liberating to realize that you don’t want to watch any more of an ugly blowout and realize that you don’t have to, and finish re-watching Evolution), but here are some possible explanations for what went on.
First of all, repeat after me: The difference in the two series was defensive. The Cavs scored 100 points in three of their six games against the Magic, and their lowest total was 89. The Magic just did not bring their game offensively at all.
First off, the Lakers had answers for Dwight Howard. Bynum did a good job, and there were even other guys who were able to get in there and bother them with size. Everything the Magic got against us offensively stemmed with Z and Andy having no possible explanation for Howard inside. If the Lakers can survive Dwight like the Celtics did, this team becomes much easier to guard.
On pick-and-rolls, I thought the Lakers were still getting exposed and giving up good looks, but the Magic decided now would be the time to start missing threes, and Hedo was not getting nearly as many layups thanks to some good help.
Mickael Pietrus: 3-5 from three, 2-8 on twos, 1-3 free throws, 0 assists. He’s replaced JR Smith as the premeir “really athletic wing who is actually much better off just bombing threes like he’s Brent Barry” player in the league. Congratulations.
As for Kobe, 38 attempts to get 40 points doesn’t seem so overwhelmingly awesome. But against a good defensive team like the Magic, the ability to create 38 opportunities for yourself and have all of them have a relatively good chance of going in is an amazing skill-it takes the team out of extended offensive lulls, which is what great defensive teams live on. And with the 8 assists, Kobe accounted for 54 of the Magic’s 100 points. Really impressive. And to use 46 possessions and make one turnover is amazing.
That’ll do it for this week-just to give a heads up, I’ll probably be doing Frazier on Cheers-like analysis of the finals on this site while they’re going on with soem other notes jotted in to justify the post, then get into player evaluations, draft, trade rumors, etc. when the season gets done and it’s time to focus on the off-season again. Partly this is because I don’t try and go against the grain of what the big stories of the day are, and partly it’s because this feels like our finals and it still hasn’t fully sunk in that we’re not going to win them.
By the way, I’ve been coping with not being able to sleep real well at night since Game 1 of the Magic series by watching a bunch of independent movies. I like things that are scripted. Tonight was Rachel Getting Married-Imagine the parts of The Office where you can’t believe Michael is acting this way and feel so bad for him and can’t even watch, but made realistic and not funny at all and for a full 50-minute stretch. That movie was more enjoyable to watch for me than the first game of this finals.