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Lakers need to play to their strengths

The matchup with Orlando is intriguing, because of the differences between the Lakers' triangle offense and the Magic's inside game plus reliance on the jumper.

June 01, 2009|Broderick Turner

So often you hear NBA coaches say matchups make a series.

Well, in the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Orlando Magic, it is a most intriguing matchup between teams with different personalities. Game 1 is Thursday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers run the triangle offense, relying on moving bodies and the ball, as well as on spacing. When that doesn't work, the Lakers go to Kobe Bryant, who often delivers like no one else in the NBA.

The Magic has a dominant presence inside with center Dwight Howard, but Orlando also lives by the jumper, particularly the three-pointer.

"It's a team that presents a lot of tough matchups," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "They have a lot of guys that are just very talented offensively. You have to be aware of them obviously, know your personnel but also try to take advantage of your strengths, of our strengths and attack them."

The Lakers want to use all their weapons, getting the ball down low to Gasol and Andrew Bynum, knocking down outside shots, cutting to the basket. "I feel like we have to be concerned about doing what we do," said Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who is in charge of scouting the Magic. "I think if we do what we're supposed to do, that if we do our jobs properly, we'll be OK."

Here are some matchup things to look for in the series:


Three-point shooting

The Magic averaged 23.3 three-point attempts a game in the playoffs, making 8.6 of the shots.

The Magic made 36.7% of its three-pointers in the playoffs. The Magic will pull up for threes on the fast-break, on penetration and on kick-outs from Howard.

Mickael Pietrus (39.3%) Rashard Lewis (39.1%), Hedo Turkoglu (37.3%) and Rafer Alston (35.1%) all shoot three-pointers.

"They are the kind of team that says 'pick your poison,' " Shaw said.


Inside game

The Lakers have a size advantage in 7-footers Bynum and Gasol and 6-10 Lamar Odom.

Look for the Lakers to exploit that fact.

"Our big lineup is really going to present a problem for them," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.


Lewis vs. Gasol

Lewis does most of his work on the perimeter, meaning he can draw Gasol away from the basket and drive by him.

Gasol has to move his feet and close out when Lewis launches his three-pointers.


Keeping home-court advantage

The Lakers have the home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series and they must keep it.

They lost Game 1 at home to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals and Game 2 at home to the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals, which meant they gave up the home-court advantage in those series.

"That's something that you don't want to do in the Finals with this setup, the 2-3-2 setup," Jackson said. "So we really want to come out and be prepared."

The Magic won Game 1 on the road against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals and Game 1 in Cleveland against the Cavaliers in the conference finals.

So the Magic will look to win at least one of the first two games at Staples Center, knowing that the middle three games will be in Orlando.


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