How the Lakers and Magic match up
PG: Derek Fisher (7.1 ppg, 35.6% FG) vs Rafer Alston (12.7 ppg, 38.3%)
Fisher has been in a bad slump this post-season, while Alston has done a solid job running the Magic offense, as evidenced by his solid 2.5/1 assist/turnover ratio, and making timely open jumpers despite his FG%. Advantage... MAGIC
SG: Kobe Bryant (29.6 ppg, 46.6% FG) vs Courtney Lee (8.8 ppg, 45.1% FG) or Mickael Pietrus (10.5 ppg, 48.5% FG)
Bryant is who he is, but Lee and Pietrus will make Bryant work hard for his points; Pietrus has been a revelation for the Magic off the bench in the playoffs with his versatility on offense and defense and timely three point shooting. Advantage... LAKERS
SF: Trevor Ariza (11.4 ppg, 55.8% FG) vs Hedo Turkoglu (15.2 ppg, 41% FG, 5.1 assists)
Ariza, formerly with the Magic, is playing the best basketball of his career both offensively and defensively, while Turkoglu has been struggling with consistency shooting in the playoffs, but has hit a couple of big shots and has done a solid job passing and ballhandling when he needs to. Slight advantage... MAGIC
PF: Pau Gasol (18.2 ppg, 57.4% FG, 11.3 reb) or Lamar Odom (12.0 ppg, 51.9% FG, 9.5 rebounds) vs Rashard Lewis (19.4 ppg, 46% FG, 6.1 rebounds)
When Gasol and Andrew Bynum are in the game together, Gasol will probably be on Lewis; when Bynum is on the bench, Odom will be on Lewis. Odom has played outstanding off the bench this postseason, while Gasol has been his usual solid self. Lewis has been the Magic's second-best player this postseason. Tough call here, but if Odom and Gasol both play as well as they did against Denver... Slight advantage... LAKERS
C: Andrew Bynum (6.3 ppg, 3.6 rebounds) or Gasol vs Dwight Howard (21.7 ppg, 62.2% FG, 15.4 rebounds)
Tough matchup for the Lakers here defensively, as Howard should have his way with either player, as neither player is physical enough to contain Howard. Advantage... MAGIC
Other bench players for the Lakers: SG Shannon Brown (5.7 ppg); PG Jordan Farmar (5.1 ppg); SG Sasha Vujacic (3.8 ppg); SF Luke Walton (3.8 ppg)
Other bench players for the Magic: SG: J.J. Redick (6.2 ppg); PG Anthony Johnson (4.3 ppg); C Marcin Gortat (3.3 ppg); PF Tony Battie (2.2 ppg) Slight advantage... LAKERS
Coaches: Phil Jackson vs Stan Van Gundy
Van Gundy has done an outstanding job in his two seasons with the Magic to get them to this point, but Jackson is a future Hall of Famer with 9 championships. Advantage... LAKERS
I think this is going to be an outstanding and very competitive series, much better than a Cavaliers/Lakers matchup would have been (The Lakers would have beaten the Cavs in 4 or 5 games).
I don't want to jinx the Magic by picking them to win.
Remember Mike Freeman, the cbssports.com columnist who wrote a scathing article criticizing the Magic after they beat Philly in Round 1? Well, he's really changed his tune, as the Magic have made a believer out of him. Here's his latest column: www.cbssports.com/nba/story/11816700
I was asked by Greg Payne of celticscircuit.com, a Boston Celtics blog, to partake in a few questions and answers Wednesday regarding the Magic/Lakers. Click on the link to check it out.
Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports speculates on how Jameer Nelson could help the Magic if he plays in this column.
Here is Yahoo Sports! preview of the series.
Check out Third Quarter Collapse for various posts and previews regarding the series.
Sportsbook.com has installed the Lakers as -260 favorites to win the series, with the Magic as +210 underdogs. The Lakers are 6 point favorites to win Game 1.
The fun starts tonight at 9:00 Eastern on ABC.