Summer has arrived, so you know what that means. It’s time for another NBA season to end. This year, the NBA is going out the same way it came in, with style.
The NBA Finals is the equivalent of the highest pinnacle in sports. It is where great players become household names (Magic, Bird, Jordan, etc.). The NBA has recaptured the excitement as a new champion will be crowned. This Thursday will feature two teams who are very different. On one side, the Orlando Magic is a young and unpredictable team that keeps their opponents off-balance. The other side features the Los Angeles Lakers, who make their 30th all-time Finals appearance. They are led by a mixture of veterans and young players. Coaches Stan Van Gundy and Phil Jackson have led their teams through perseverance against impossible odds. These teams have been battle tested throughout the season and the playoffs, but their biggest challenge has just begun.
The Orlando Magic is a team built on the strength of All-Star center and Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. The Magic have relied on Howard’s presence and ability to dominate the paint. The Eastern Conference Champions also live by the 3-pointer and die by the 3-pointer. Nearly every player, such as Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, is a 3-point specialist. At least ten of their players are automatic from downtown. Their road to the NBA Finals was a difficult one. After breezing through the first round, the Magic beat the defending champion Celtics in seven games. They went on to beat LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in six. These playoff series have been thrilling for the Magic, whom have conquered playoff battle after playoff battle. They might have All-Star PG Jameer Nelson coming back to play in at least a bench player capacity. Are they ready to win the war?The Los Angeles Lakers is a team led by their All-Star and former MVP Kobe Bryant. They rely heavily on Bryant’s leadership and clutch performances. The Western Conference Champions also rely on veterans and the “spark-plugs.” They have shooters and these “spark-plugs” that come off the bench to keep the tempo, such as Trevor Ariza. Veterans such as Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Derek Fisher can carry the load if Bryant has a bad day. Their road to the NBA was also not easy. The Lakers were able to coast through the first round but went to seven games against the Rockets. They also won a tough and exhausting battle against the Nuggets. Are they ready to win the war?
Both teams have shown resilience and the courage to strive forward to achieve the ultimate goal in basketball. Now, both teams are at the big stage. The Magic has an inside game that makes their outside game even more impressive. The Lakers have an all-around game with veterans that are Finals tested. For the Magic to win, they must contain Kobe Bryant and control the paint. For the Lakers to win, they must shut down the 3-point onslaught and get Howard in foul trouble early. My Prediction: Magic in 7!!! I believe that they have what is necessary to shut L.A. down. However, this classic confrontation will take a while before a victor is crowned. This has all the making to be an epic battle between two unstoppable forces.
Well, that’s it for today. Remember, coverage for the NBA Finals starts tomorrow at 8:30 PM Eastern (check local listings) on ABC. If you disagree, don’t be shy. I would love to hear your predictions. E-mail me back right here, and I’ll respond. Until then, stay cool you KNUCKLEHEADS!!!
Copyright © 2007 by Sebastian Maldonado