While I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Orlando Magic manhandle the Cavaliers, deep down, minus all the talk about x's and o's, I doubt their ability to beat the Lakers on the biggest stage in basketball. You can't underestimate just how bad Kobe Bryant wants to redeem himself after last year's embarrassing performance.
As for the match-ups, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers defend Orlando. Who can Pau Gasol cover? Dwight Howard? Not without a double team. Rashard Lewis or Hedu Turkoglu? Gasol might be more effective than the Cleveland bigs in that high-screen set, but he's not quick enough to stay with either in any other formation.
The wildcard for Los Angeles is Lamar Odom, who can cover both Lewis and Turkoglu. So can the 6-8 Trevor Ariza and Bryant. Phil Jackson certainly has more options than Mike Brown (has he been fired yet?).
Despite a gritty, gutty win over the Celtics in 7, and the annihilation of the Cavs, I'm still reluctant to pick Orlando in this series (Yes, I know they beat LA 2-0 in the regular season). I fear they'll end up like the 2006-07 Cavs (swept 4-0), the 2003-04 Lakers (beaten 4-1) or the 2001-02 Nets (swept 4-0).
As for Celtics news, Marc Spears has these tidbits in his Sunday column:
Free agent guard Stephon Marbury displayed his
interest in re-signing with the Celtics by keeping his Waltham
apartment near the practice facility. He was at the facility, shooting,
a day after the team's season ended. Swingman J.R. Giddens also stayed in town and is doing two-a-day workouts in Waltham.
Today's Links: Daily Dime: Superman Forecasts Divine Intervention | Yahoo! - LeBron's Silence Speaks Loud Enough | Herald – Note to Refs, Games Are Not About You | Mark Murphy – C's Earn Sold Pat on Back | SI – Howard Revelas Magic Act | LA Times – Lakers Get Home Court, But Do They Have Advantage? |Orl. Sentinel – Magic Never Felt Pressure