The 2009 playoffs are roaring by, much like my vacation … we’re only 50-some games into Brewers season and the NBA just might finish by Father’s Day, which is next to unheard of.
A preview of the Lakers-Magic Final is in order for these pages, and I’m sure you’re dying to read another one. That’s why the makers of this blog have bestowed upon we sportsbubbler bloggers with the ability to make links. Here’s Ball Don’t Lie’s generally outstanding Finals preview, where you’ll find this curious note: Rafer Alston is “no Aaron Brooks. …”
Say what? I think Alston’s experience is a plus for the Magic, as it was against the Cavaliers and Mo Williams, whose lack of playoff experience showed in the East Finals (call it the ex-Bucks of the Michael Redd era factor). Brooks is an up and coming young point guard, no doubt about that, and he helped bring out the worst in Lakers starting point guard Derrick Fisher … which brings me to the following …
The “I used to like Derrick Fisher” file. Playoffs talk among NBA fans in Milwaukee (yes, we’re out here and just might see if we can get the Brewers game off one of the seven or eight TVs at your favorite sports bar) usually come around to Fisher, a reaction to the Laker point guard’s brutal flagrant foul on Luis Scola during the Lakers-Rockets series. What’s a bullish point guard doing playing football with the Rockets power forward? You’d have to ask Fisher, whose lucky he only received a one-game suspension. Fisher’s past his prime and has obviously resorted to thugery, an advantage for the Magic in the matchups. Altson is quicker than Denver Point guard Chauncey Billups and should be able to do a better job of exploiting Fisher.
Alston may want to consult the work of super genius Sam “I Am” Cassell in last year’s finals. Though Cassell saw only limited action in the Celtics-Lakers series, he made the most of his minutes, going right at Fisher on two consecutive plays, popping jumpers in his face, laughing all the way. While it may not have set the tone for the Celtics 4-2 Finals win (that was Kevin Garnett’s doing), it did seem to show how little respect the Celtics had for some of Kobe’s complementary pieces — and just might have had a profound affect on Fisher’s psyche.
I fully expect the Lakers to start the chippiness right away in tonight’s series opener.
Prediction: Lakers in 7. Kobe and Pau Gasol seem to have the taste of last year’s loss to the Celtics written in their near constant 2009 playoffs scowls. The rest of the Lakers? Question marks and mismatches give the advantage to the Magic in most other areas, with Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum having their hands full with the Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis. I’d expect Hedo Turkoglu to get the Gasol assignment, but we’ll see how long it takes the Magic to find ways to put Gasol in the hands of Howard. Trevor Ariza gives the Lakers a nice edge off teh bench. This looks to be a great series between two well-matched teams. The Lakers home court advantage tips it their way.
I also just have a feeling that, love it or hate it, this is Kobe’s year.