Who wants a shot at redemption?
Given the significance of what's in front of them in these NBA Finals, it's reasonable for each member of the roster to do whatever is necessary (and legal), with fans giving them a free pass. Even if that means imitating a Boston Celtic, as Andrew Bynum plans to do in defending Orlando's Dwight Howard. The Kendrick Perkins Model worked, relatively speaking at least, for the Bostonians in Round 2, a plan that included physical play and a concerted effort to beat Howard down the floor so the big fella isn't the beneficiary of Doris Day parking under the Lakers' bucket.
This consitutes a challenge for Bynum, in part because his knee isn't right and won't be until a full summer of rest and rehab arrive and that hasn't exactly been the picture of consistency throughout the postseason. Also, Howard is incredibly athletic and probably gets up and down the floor better than any other true center in the league.
Oh yeah, that. In the end, though, a strong performance against Howard gives Bynum a chance to rewrite his playoffs script.
Another guy expected to give more? Lamar Odom, in no small part because folks are always wanting more from LO. I did a radio spot last night, and the host suggested the Lakers needed Odom to deliver 15/15 for the Lakers to win. Allow me to pass along the full list of 15/15 players across the NBA this year. Oh right, there were none. From a rebounding standpoint, Howard's 13.8 a night led the Association, so 15 a game might be a reach. (Why not ask him to return GM to solvency, while just to round out his agenda?) It does, however, illustrate how the Good Production From Lamar Bar is a fluid thing, generally always moving up from whatever he gives.
But while the necessary numbers are debatable the Lakers will need his versatility on both ends, particularly as he matches up against Rashard Lewis. Personally, I'm more concerned about how Odom fits in defensively, because his length and mobility provides a great foil to both Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. They'll need Odom to both rebound and close on the perimeter, which as you can imagine isn't the easiest mission in the world.
While it's important for Odom to be part of the offense, it's not a question of specific statistical benchmarks. LO is one of those dudes who often does well by the eyeball test, since he can impact a game in more ways than box score categories. He has to make a noticeable imprint on the game, but often that's less about his points or rebounds than his +/-. When Odom is playing well, you can tell, even if the numbers aren't huge... though I certainly won't complain if they are.
More reading for the day:
Trevor Ariza doesn't get teary-eyed when reminiscing about his days in Orlando, but don't call this a grudge match.
Howard Beck of the NYT looks at Kobe Bryant's six NBA Finals and notes the absence of a genuine, consistent rival. It's worth asking if the sort of Magic vs. Bird thing has gone the way of the dodo. Kobe vs. LeBron was the hope, at least for this season, but we all know how that went.
Great roundtable discussion on the Finals matchup at Third Quarter Collapse, including guys like Bethlehem Shoals of Free Darko fame, and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus. For more Magic blog reading, the Orlando Magic Daily would like to dispel some myths.
Pelton's Finals preview is a great read over at BP, breaking down both sides of the ball. Still, I'll skip to the good part:
"...In hindsight, Orlando's upset win in the Eastern Conference Finals looks more predictable because of the importance of matchups in the postseason. The Magic had won the season series 2-1 and convincingly so. Orlando's upset means every playoff series so far has been won by the team that won or tied the regular-season series, a trend the Magic certainly hopes continue, having swept the Lakers. This time, however, the evidence isn't as strong in Orlando's favor. The two wins were both close, coming by a combined nine points, and the Magic relied heavily on the production of Nelson. The odds of him matching that even if he does play--or any of the other Orlando point guards replicating it--are long indeed.
This time around, the matchups are not so strongly tilted in the Magic's favor. When the Lakers go small, they match up very well indeed--with the notable exception of the middle. While it's possible to envision a scenario in which Howard is too much for either Bynum or Gasol to handle, the shooters make their shots and the Orlando defense is solid enough to hold the Lakers at bay, the more likely scenario is that Howard will come back to earth slightly after his back conference finals and the Lakers' offense will prove more potent than the Cavs' attack did.
The Lakers were my pick in October before the season started, they were my pick in April at the beginning of the playoffs, and despite testing my faith at times the last month and a half, they remain my pick to win the championship now.
L.A. Lakers in 6."
An interesting little profile of Eddie Doucette, the broadcaster who coined the term "sky hook."