First of all, I’d like to shout out all the regulars that visit “the Squeeze”. We couldn’t be doing this without you. Unfortunately our regular columnist that covers the Lakers, Glenn Reno, is having Vegas withdrawals so I’ll be taking over while he recovers (hang in there buddy). The name’s Sanel and I’m here to give my take on the pivotal Game 3 between the Lakers and Magic. The Magic blew Game 2 and should be going to Orlando with the series tied at one game a piece. (We all know the refs had a lil to do with the outcome of the game but that’s neither here or do for now, although the NBA theorists are asking where Tim Donaghy was during the 4th quarter of this game). Now most Lakers fans, including myself, know how important it was for the Lakers to win the first 2 games even though they hold the home court advantage; because it seems that in the NBA Finals, the team with the middle 3 games seems to realistically have the upper hand because even with losing the first 2 games, IF they win all 3 games at home, they go back to the Staples Center with a series leading 3-2 with two chances to win one game( Ed. Not True).
Game 3 is critical for the Magic because lets face it, if they don’t win, the series is over. There is a few things they can carry over to this third game with them if they want to have a chance to win. Furst, continue to shoot the long ball (no homo). This is what has carried them all year long and this is what has brought them to the Finals. Second, they must out rebound the Lakers if they want a chance to win. (Hedo, 4 and 6 rebs through two games aint cutting it, YOUR TEAM NEEDS YOU) (Ed. The Magic haven’t needed to outrebound anyone on the way to the finals). Third, and this one goes out to SVG… SIT JAMEER NELSON!!! You must reward the players that have played well all post-season. He has obviously disrupted the team chemistry and we all know that’s a big part of winning basketball. Give Anthony Johnson the playing time because he’s a true point guard who will find the open man and make the defense work.
As far as the Lakers are concerned, they will need to continue to stay focused. Many times during this post-season, they have felt that they could turn on the switch (which they have) but it can come back to haunt them like it almost did against the JV Rockets. 1. Show him the money. That’s right. LO7. The most important starter/bench player/starter/bench player since…….yeh, you get the idea. When this man wants to play, he is easily one the top 5 power forwards of the game. He will have to continue to play well for the Lakers off the bench. Secondly, Kobe will need to continue to be a facilitator within the offense. He has done a great job so far in the series with a combined assists total of 16. If he continues to play with what the defense gives him (although I don’t know what he was trying to do on that final possession in the 4th qtr), the Lakers should be able to get a game in Orl. Last but not least, POW, Pau Gasol, is starting to shake off the word SOFT or as my friends like to say it “SOPHT”. He has been playing brilliantly this post season when he has gotten the touches and he’s clearing any nightmares I had of him duplicating his softness against the Boston Celtics. Although Dwight Howard definitely has the strength advantage on him, Pau has counteracted with his basketball IQ and the defensive strategy of Phil Jackson resulting in only 6 fg’s so far (Ed. His first dunk was in game 2, incredible for someone who lead the league). As long as Orlando doesn’t start drilling their outside shots like they started to do in Game 2, Pau should be able to cancel out Dwight Howard and make the Magic into a one dimensional team.
(Ed. Sanel forgot to mention who he thinks should win the game, I’m going to go out ona limb and say he picks the Lakers.)