Monday, March 14, 2011
Lakers vs. Magic Preview
A lot has changed in the NBA since the Lakers won a harder-fought-than-it-sounds 5 game Finals series vs. the Magic in 2009. Back then, Carmelo and Chauncey had just pushed the Lakers almost to the brink in a 6 game Western Conference finals series with the Nuggets, Derrick Rose and the Bulls were struggling to stay above mediocrity and LeBron was the likable one between him and Kobe.
Besides that, the Magic look nothing like the team that made that run except for Dwight, Jameer Nelson, Redick and the returning Turkoglu (who played himself into a huge contract with Toronto thanks to his clut...i mean great preparation in that year's playoffs). As I wrote before here, the Magic are still trying to find their identity, although recent wins (the comeback in Miami, wins over the Lakers and Knicks) may be a sign that they're getting their stuff together.
Kobe is a game-time decision tonight after an ugly incident involving his ankle and Shawn Marion on Saturday, but that almost always means that he's going to give it a go, weather it's detrimental to the team or not. You have to admire his toughness but sometimes, in the quest to prove how indestructible the Black Mamba is, he can slow the team down. A hobbling Kobe is not a good thing for the Lakers and they seem to thrive in short spurts without him (their record last season when he finally sat down was a very respectable 6-3 with some very solid wins during that period) but my guess is he'll still try to lace up those ugly hyperdunks tonight.
With or without Kobe, I like the Lakers tonight as the Magic are nearing the end of a long west coast trip and L.A. seems to have found their mojo.