Finals far from done...
ORLANDO -- Why is everyone in such a hurry to write off the NBA Finals? Game 3 doesn't tip off until Tuesday night, but if we are to believe what we read, Game 3 is a waste of time. A formality. A condescending 48-minute exercise bestowed upon Orlando to let the Magic make some money in ticket and concession sales.
I'm talking to everyone who has decided this series ended with Game 2, which the Lakers won to build their series edge to 2-0.
The point is, nothing about Game 2 would say, or even suggest, that this series is over. Just the opposite. After Game 1 indicated Los Angeles was out of Orlando's league, Game 2 went the other way. Game 2 showed a Magic team more than capable of playing with the Lakers, and even of beating the Lakers. Yes, Courtney Lee, we're all looking at you.
For some reason, the Lakers lucked out a win in Game 2 ... and people line up to crown them. Like this series is over or something.Isn't a 2-0 series edge what the Lakers are supposed to have right now?
I would like to point out -- but the Magic showed enough moxie Sunday night in Los Angeles to make it clear that they can win two or even three games in Orlando. And if this series goes back to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7, even if the Lakers are ahead 3-2, all the pressure would be on Los Angeles. Winning one lousy game out of two, at home, would become a referendum on the genius of Phil Jackson and the leadership of Kobe Bryant and the manhood, such as it is, of Pau Gasol. That's pressure.
Only Orlando has the wherewithal to get better from here. Jameer Nelson could play better as he works off the rust, or he could go back to the inactive list in an effort by coach Stan Van Gundy to recapture the chemistry that helped Orlando manhandle Cleveland. Rafer Alston can't play any worse. Mickael Pietrus can't be called for more phantom fouls than in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard won't be held in check offensively throughout this series.
The Magic have more moving parts, is my point. Los Angeles is steady. Kobe has been Kobe. Gasol has played (surprisingly) well. Same with Lamar Odom. Andrew Bynum hasn't done squat, but he hasn't done squat in months. No reason to believe he'll start doing squat now.
Am I predicting a 2009 NBA title for Orlando? I am not.
But is this series as "over" as people are saying?
It is not.
Click here for the complete column.
Here is the complete preview of Game 3 from Yahoo! Sports
The Magic are 4 point favorites
Coverage begins at 9 PM Eastern on ABC.