To be honest, all of our main writers here at Sports Fan 4 experienced a bit of basketball and hockey withdrawal after both the Bruins and Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs. It's why you haven't seen much chatter here about either sport's continuing playoffs excitement. But today, we'll offset that a bit and focus on the NBA Finals and deliver predictions for each from our four main writers.
NBA Finals Predictions
- Matt Simonini: Magic in six
- Adam Pieniazek: Magic in seven
- Josh Gans: Lakers in seven
- Eddie Skrzyniarz: Magic in seven
The NBA Finals has the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Orlando Magic. The money pick for this series would probably be the Lakers since they went to the finals last season with essentially the same team they have now. The Magic on the other hand are coming in hot, having beaten the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
I'm going to pick Orlando to win this series in 6 games. If the Magic can make Kobe play 5 on 1 basketball the way Lebron James did in the Eastern Finals then it should play out in the Magic's favor. The 4 and 5 positions are going to be an interesting subplot as well. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol facing off with Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard respectively. It will be interesting to watch to see the battle on the interior and along the wings between those guys.
It is going to be a tough series that will be hard fought on both sides. I think that Orlando can take the series as long as they continue to play the way they have and as long as those three point shots keep falling. Isolate Kobe and make him beat the entire team. When Kobe plays well and his teammates help out the Lakers are an extremely tough team.
Mainly, I'm picking the Magic because all but one ESPN writer chose the Lakers. Last year, the scenario was similar and we all know how that turned out. Throughout the playoffs, fans and sports writers have doubted the Orlando Magic. Heck, I wrote them off after the Celtics comeback in Game Five. But the Magic have shown true heart and determination, first in coming back and knocking out the World Champion Boston Celtics. Then, they drove Lebron James and the Cavs out of the playoffs.
Throughout their victories, Dwight Howard has proven to be a near unstoppable force. I don't see anyone on the Lakers who can defend Howard. Neither do I see anyone who can match Superman's rebounding ability. The Lakers will give it a good fight, we won't see a huge blowout like Game 6 of last year's NBA Finals, but in the end the three point shooting of the Magic and Howard's relentless rebounding will knock out another NBA elite team, securing an NBA Finals championship for the City of Orlando.
I'm taking the Lakers in 7. I feel this is going to be one of those series where the home team wins every game. I don't see either team winning a road game the way the playoffs have gone so far, and even if the road team wins it would probably result still in a 2-2 split after game 4. The Lakers are going to take the series with experience and a chip on their shoulder from losing to the Boston Celtics last season. Kobe will not let this one get away and Dwight Howard can be contained by Odom, Ariza and Gasol.
This series has a lot of intriguing story lines building up to Thursday's game. One of the biggest is that the Magic beat the Lakers twice during the regular season. But then again, that was with Jameer Nelson playing out of his mind, scoring 55 points over two games. Also, this is the NBA finals, not the regular season. The Lakers were here last season with pretty much the same team intact and they are playoff tested and ready to bring back their first title to L.A. since Shaq was traded. The pressure of a giant stage might lead to a game one loss by a relatively young Magic team with jitters.
However, I feel that this series will stretch the entire seven games and the Magic will win. If Dwight Howard can take over a game like he did in game six against the Cavs, dominating the inside paint and kicking the ball out for open threes, the Lakers will have fits trying to defend the Magic's shooters like Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Pietrus. The Lakers, outside of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, have a very hit or miss bench while the Magic have been firing on all cylinders. This should be a fast paced and exciting series!
There you have it folks, all but one of our writers believes the Orlando Magic will be the NBA Champions for 2009. In the interests of full disclosure, do keep in mind that the one writer picking the Lakers, Mr. Josh Gans, also picked the Spartans to beat the Tarheels.
As a half Tarheel alumni (spent two years at Chapel Hill), it's my duty to remind everyone, the parties went down on Franklin Street that night. Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell. Either way, here's hoping for an exciting Lakers - Magic NBA Finals.
We'd love to hear your predictions in the comments below!