Going into the playoffs, Orlando and Charlotte were the only teams to beat us every time. Charlotte, whatever. But Orlando is troubling. How is that we beat Boston twice, Cleveland twice, but couldn't beat Orlando even once? Not even at home?
If I remember correctly, we lost in Orlando in a close game, where we had a chance to win it at the buzzer but couldn't convert (was it Sasha? Kobe?). Not a terrible sign. In LA, I think they outplayed us throughout.
After watching the Cavs get manhandled by D12 and co, I worry about the match up. They seemed to have no problem getting Dwight the ball down low. In which case, he'd make a good strong move to the basket and get a high percentage shot, or if doubled, pass it out and all the Magic players knew to swing it to the open man for a clear three. It's not like the Cavs were playing poor defense on that play, it's just that the Magic offense was very smart and efficient.
How can the Lakers do a better job of not giving up a good look to Dwight or an open three pointer to Rashard Lewis or Mickael Pietrus? I think it needs to start off on the entry pass to Dwight. Like what we started doing against Yao before he went out, Drew and Pau need to front Dwight. At the same time, this leaves open a lane to the basket for an alley-oop, which Dwight is more than capable of converting. This necessitates that the defender on-ball will have to play aggressively close defense. Not a bad plan, considering we do this quite often anyway. Was Aaron Brooks more of a threat to penetrate than Rafer Alston will be? I think so. This will lead to the Magic moving the ball around the perimeter, perhaps looking for an entry pass to Dwight or a driving lane. In these scenarios, we have to pick our poison. If we play too close, they can drive. If we play off, many of them can hit three's. I'm of the old school thought and think we should play them a little off, contesting the three but not preventing it. Don't commit to defending the three until they prove they're hitting them.
Enough about defense. Can we score on this team? We had a lot of trouble doing so in the regular season, and its not like we've added more offensive weapons. I think our best chance to is to use our two starting seven footers. Try to get some post play, possibly get Rashard or Dwight into foul trouble. If we take a contested jumper, more than likely Dwight will grab the rebound. Perhaps run some pick and rolls with Drew to pull Dwight out, and feed Pau or Trevor cutting to the basket.
In the straight up game, I don't see how they can guard Pau. He's too tall for their 4's, too quick and talented for Dwight. We should focus on getting Pau lots of shots.
Thursday can't come soon enough. June 4. 6pm. ABC (Channel 7 in LA).