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Game 1 News and Notes
Game 1 News and Notes
Lakers-Magic Game 1 Outlook
By Matt Fargo
Orlando Matchup Advantage Again?
Los Angeles is 8-2 at home in the playoffs, adding to its 36-5 record at home during the regular season. One of those home losses came against Orlando and as a matter of fact, the Lakers were swept by the Magic this season. This is sounding awfully familiar to the scenario that Orlando had against Cleveland as it dominated the Cavaliers this season due to advantages across the floor.
Cleveland did not have a supporting cast to go along with LeBron James but the Lakers in fact do have a much better balanced team than the Cavaliers. The Lakers also have Andrew Bynum who can give Dwight Howard some trouble and overall, the Lakers are a much better rebounding team than Orlando, especially on the offensive end. The two losses by the Lakers during the regular season can be attributed to bad shooting as they shot only 40.6 percent (73-180) from the floor.
Teams make adjustments and there will no doubt be adjustments made by one of the games greatest coaches ever in Phil Jackson. The most recent of those victories came almost five months ago and regular season wins can mean little. You can ask the Cavaliers if that holds true. However, Orlando is playing with a ton of confidence and that cannot be discounted.
Tinsel Town Experience
We all know the history of the Lakers and how they have won 14 World Championships throughout the years. However that is not the experience I am referring to. The Lakers were in the NBA Finals last season and that alone is worth some value for Los Angeles. The fact that it lost to the Celtics four games to two put a bad taste in the mouths of the team and making matters worse was the 39-point drubbing in the closeout game.
All NBA teams that are in the Finals are not going to go out without a fight but something says that the Lakers are going to be more focused because of what happened last season as they are out to prove something. In last year’s NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant didn’t play particularly well, averaging 25.7 ppg which is solid but it came on less than 41 percent shooting which is far from good.
“It makes you tougher,” said Bryant of this year’s playoff mediocrity and last season’s championship loss. “It makes you have to dig deep. ... You deal with the controversy and the criticism. All those things make you a better team.” It's quite possible this young Orlando team will be a little awed on the game's biggest stage, especially having to open twice in Los Angeles.
The Nelson Effect
It looks as though Jameer Nelson will be in uniform for Orlando for the NBA Finals. Does that make the Magic a better team now? I personally do not think so. His backup Rafer Alston played a great series against Cleveland so any change of chemistry that won that series is a bad move on the part of the Magic. Not to mention, Nelson will be way behind in regard to timing, shooting and overall continuity with his team.
I say if he actually does play, it will benefit the Lakers more than Orlando in this first game. He has already added some fuel to the fire. “I'm not saying I'm any tougher or stronger than anybody, but I've been known to do some amazing things sometimes,” he said. His leadership will no doubt be beneficial but it is highly unlikely he can repeat what he did during the regular season.
A lot of people are looking at the numbers he put up in the regular season in two games against Los Angeles. Nelson led the Magic in both games, averaging 27.5 ppg while shooting a combined 20-34 from the field including 7-12 from beyond the three-point line. The rest he has had will mean fresh legs but it also means poor stamina. As far as rest goes, the Lakers needed it and got it and playing only their 2nd game in seven days this season, they are 8-1 ATS.
Re: Game 1 News and Notes
Orlando (12-7 SU, 10-9 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (12-6 SU, 10-8 ATS)
The Lakers return to the NBA Finals for the second straight year, hosting Game 1 at Staples Center against the upstart Magic, who were seeded third in the Eastern Conference and are in just their second championship series in franchise history.
Top-seeded Los Angeles pushed past Denver in six games, rumbling to a 119-92 rout Friday as a 5½-point road underdog to clinch the Western Conference finals in what was an otherwise very tightly played series. Kobe Bryant led the way in Game 6 with 35 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, Lamar Odom had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Pau Gasol finished with 20 points and 12 boards.
The Lakers, who won and cashed in Games 5 and 6 against Denver, shot a whopping 57.3 percent from the floor in the clincher and hit 9 of 16 from three-point land (56.2 percent), while holding the Nuggets to just 43.8 percent shooting. Bryant leads the Lakers in the playoffs, averaging 29.6 ppg, and Gasol is averaging a double-double of 18.2 points and 11.3 rebounds in the postseason.
Orlando shocked No. 1 overall seed Cleveland and LeBron James, posting a 103-90 victory Saturday as a two-point home favorite for a 4-2 series win as a massive series underdog.. Dwight Howard came up huge with 40 points (12 of 16 from the line) and 14 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis (18 points), Mickael Pietrus (14 points) and Rafer Alston (13 points) combined to go 10 of 21 from three-point range. The Magic held James to 25 points in the clincher, 10 below his playoffs-leading average, and they outrebounded the Cavs 47-34.
Howard has paced the Magic throughout the postseason, averaging 21.7 ppg and 15.4 rebounds per contest. Three other Orlando players are averaging double digits in scoring, with Lewis putting up 19.4 ppg, Hedo Turkoglu at 15.2 ppg and Alston at 12.7 ppg. Also, it appears the Magic will get a boost to their roster with the expected return of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson (16.7 ppg, 5.4 assists per game) has been out since early February with what was expected to be a season-ending shoulder injury.
Orlando swept the home-and-home series with Los Angeles this year SU and ATS, winning 106-103 as a 1½-point home pup in December and 109-103 as a 4½-point road ‘dog in January. Nelson was the catalyst in both victories, with 27 points in the home win, and 28 points and eight assists at Staples. Bryant had 41 and 28 points, respectively, in the losses for Los Angeles.
The Magic are 4-1 ATS (3-2 SU) in the last five clashes in this rivalry. Additionally, the underdog is on a 6-0 ATS tear, and the road team has cashed in five of those six meetings.
Los Angeles is 44-7 SU (25-26 ATS) at home this season, including 8-2 SU (5-5 ATS) in the postseason. Orlando is 32-19 SU (31-19-1 ATS) on the road for the year, going 5-5 SU and ATS in the postseason. However, the Magic come into Game 1 having cashed in three of their last four on the highway.
The Lakers are on ATS upticks of 6-2 after three or more days off and 5-2 against teams with a winning road record. However, the pointspread trends turn downward from there for Los Angeles, including 1-10-1 in the NBA Finals – including 0-6 ATS in their championship series loss to Boston last year – 2-10 against the Southeast Division, 1-5 after a SU win, 1-4 after a spread-cover and 1-4 as a playoff chalk of five to 10½ points.
The Magic, meanwhile, are on 6-2 SU (7-1 ATS) run, dispatching second-seeded Boston and top-seeded Cleveland, and they carry impressive positive ATS streaks of 17-7 as a road pup, 19-7-1 against the Pacific Division, 20-7 versus Western Conference opponents, 5-1 after a spread-cover and 4-1 after a SU win. The lone negative: a 1-5 ATS slide after three or more days off.
For Los Angeles, the under is on tears of 8-2 overall, 5-0 at home, 27-9 when favored, 7-0 with the Lakers as a playoff chalk and 5-0 against Eastern Conference foes. Also, in this rivalry, the total has stayed low in four of the last five meetings at Staples Center. On the flip side, the over for Orlando is on stretches of 5-1 overall, 4-0 after a SU win and 4-0 when installed as a playoff ‘dog.
ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO
Re: Game 1 News and Notes
Game of the day: Magic at Lakers (Game 1)
By Matt Fargo
Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers (-6, 206)
Orlando matchup advantage again?
Los Angeles is 8-2 at home in the playoffs, adding to its 36-5 record at home during the regular season. One of those home losses came against Orlando, which also beat the Lakers on its home floor.
If this is sounding familiar it’s because we heard all these same things before the Magic faced the Cavs in the East finals. Orlando enjoyed great success against Cleveland over the last two seasons, winning five of seven and covering the spread in six of those games.
Cleveland did not have a supporting cast to go along with LeBron James, but the Lakers have a much more balanced team than the Cavaliers. Los Angeles also has center Andrew Bynum, who can give Dwight Howard some trouble.
The Lakers are a much better rebounding team than Orlando, especially on the offensive end. The Purple and Gold shot 40.6 percent from the floor against their Disney cousins – a large factor in the two regular season losses.
Teams make adjustments and Phil Jackson - one of the game’s greatest coaches – will do some fine-tuning to the Lakers’ game plan. The most recent of Orlando’s victories came almost five months ago and regular-season wins can mean little. However, Orlando is playing with a ton of confidence and that cannot be discounted.
The Lakers were in the NBA Finals last season and that is worth some value for to L.A. backers. There’s no question Kobe Bryant and crew are motivated after losing as favorites to the Celtics last June. Bryant hasn’t forgotten about the way Boston clinched the series with a 39-point win in Game 6.
Inspiration is never an issue for any team that’s playing in the Finals, but Los Angeles will be playing with an extra incentive to erase last season’s sour ending.
“It makes you tougher,” Bryant said of this year’s playoff mediocrity and last season’s championship loss. “It makes you have to dig deep. ... You deal with the controversy and the criticism. All those things make you a better team.”
It's possible this young Orlando team will be a little awed on the NBA's biggest stage, especially playing the first two games at Los Angeles.
The Nelson effect
It looks as though Jameer Nelson will be in uniform for Orlando for the NBA Finals. Does that make the Magic a better team now?
I don’t think so.
His backup Rafer Alston played a great series against Cleveland and any change to the chemistry that won that series is a bad move for the Magic Men. Nelson will be way behind in timing, shooting and overall flow with his teammates on the court.
If he does play, it will benefit the Lakers more than Orlando in this first game. He has already added some fuel to the fire.
“I'm not saying I'm any tougher or stronger than anybody, but I've been known to do some amazing things sometimes,” Nelson told reporters.
His leadership will be beneficial but it’s unlikely he can repeat what he did during the regular season.
Nelson led the Magic in scoring both times against L.A., averaging 27.5 ppg while shooting a combined 20-of-34 from the field including 7-of-12 from beyond the 3-point line.
The time off means fresh legs but it also means poor stamina. The Lakers, who haven’t played since last Friday, are 6-2 ATS when they get three or more days rest this season.
Re: Game 1 News and Notes
Jameer Nelson not expected to play tonight
Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson is not expected to play tonight in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the L.A. Lakers
Unless the Orlando Magic have a last-second change of heart before game-time, point guard Jameer Nelson is not expected to play tonight in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the L.A. Lakers and the chance of him joining the series in progress is slim, the Sentinel has learned.
Nelson has been feverishly trying to come back early from Feb. 19 shoulder surgery.
The Magic have been evaluating his progress the last few days, and it appeared he might be a long shot to play after returning to practice this week.
Nelson was two months ahead of his projected six-month rehab schedule and had increased the intensity of his workouts the past three weeks, he did not participate in his first formal practice with the Magic until last Tueday in Orlando. He also worked out with the team in L.A. on Wednesday.
Nelson has not played since tearing the labrum in his right shoulder on Feb. 2 in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Team officials called it a long-shot after the Sentinel reported last week that Nelson was trying to return. General Manager Otis Smith said that Nelson had a "smidgen" of a chance to play.