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Pau Gasol: Man with a full plate

With the Finals still fiftysomething hours away, the tension is still building.  Writers are still putting out Pau Gasol shoots over Dwight Howard previews, America is still weighing in on who will win.  For the record, people- or at least those who vote in ESPN.com SportsNation polls- overwhelmingly favor the Lakers, picking them at a nearly 60% rate.  (The numbers rise to over 95% among Lakers Blog readers... but I fear that demographic may be slightly biased.)

At the same time, there are some nuts and bolts issues to discuss.  One guy at the center of it all (metaphorically and literally) is Pau Gasol, who throughout the series will have about as varied a set of defensive responsibilities as a man of his size can take on.  First, run around the perimeter with Rashard Lewis, who may be 6'10" but took 554 three pointers this year, 68 more than any other player in the NBA.  Then, Gasol gets to pound inside with Dwight Howard, whose effective shooting range may not equal his near-seven-foot height, but still had the league's fourth best FG% because he's pretty good at getting shots from mighty close to the rim.

On the other side, Pau will try to back down Lewis, and exploit Howard in space (here's how it broke down at the Olympics, courtesy of Forum Blue and Gold).  At least he won't get bored.   

Not that you'd expect a blase attitude from a group trying to erase last June's disappointment.

More analysis/news:

VIDEO LEFTOVERS FROM MONDAY'S PRACTICE:

Kobe Bryant, on all sorts of issues.  Asked if he thought a title here might mean more, since this is clearly "his" team?  "Probably."

 

Phil Jackson, on prepping his team:

"This issue of being prepared and the preparedness of a team is always what your coaching is about. Most of the time, you want to go to a game and anticipate that what they've gone through in practice is going to prepare them for what they have to go through in a game...  Last year, we weren't quite prepared for the type of game we were going to have to play against Boston. It has nothing to do with Boston as it has to do with the playoffs."

BK

(Photo: Reuters)

 
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Laker Larry,

"By the way Jon K., Can you confirm the Cleveland Wal-Marts are completely sold out of fishing gear?"

I laughed.

The LeBroniacs are still in shock. Still making excuses for LeBron's no-show at the post-game press conference. I don't think things will fully sink in until they see Bynum or Kobe make a dunk in Game One without a single red jersey anywhere in sight.

WE ARE THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND WE RISE!!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!

>>> Pardon me for my outburts and pardon me if this has already been touched on but...
>>> Shouldn't Rashard Lewis be equally worried about Pau's Post Up?!

NO. It is not a problem. Howard is also down there. Scoring in the post against us is one of the hardest things to do. Also Lewis rarely gets into foul trouble and even if he does Battie, who was our starter before Lewis is actually a better defender. So you really have a problem there. A real big problem.

1. Gasol is not fast enough or quick enough to keep up with Lewis.
2. Gasol is not big enough or strong enough to guard Howard.
Conclusion: he is going to be a big defensive liability for you guys. You have a serious problem going on here. BIG BIG problem.

The two teams in the West you have problems with are:
Houston and Portland. They also are the two best defensive teams in the West. Guess what, we are a better defensive team than both of them. Our bench guys are better defenders than our starters when they come in with exception of Gortat. However, he is very good, as you will soon find out.

All over the papers, the so called experts talk about how LBJ needs better help. That wasnt the problem. Our defense is so good we shut them down. The only way Cleveland ever makes a game close against Orlando is LBJ has to score 40 points a game. When he doesnt we beat them by double digits. When he does the games are very very close. You Lakers are going to have the same problem. We can play big, We can play small, We can play fast, We can play slow, We have all the weapons. We outscore teams in the paint, We outscore teams from the outside, we have players who can post up, we have players who can drive to the basket, We can shoot the jump shot, we can fast break. Choose your poison LA, choose your poison, no matter what you try to stop, we can come at you another way. Guard the 3 point line like Boston did. We still beat them without it. Double team our front like like Philly did. Our guards killed them. Try to have a rover defender like the Cavs did, no problem. Choose your poison LA, Choose your poison. How do you want us to beat you????

It sure is nice being from L.A.,cuz we got the LAKERS
and you don't...GO PURPLE & GOLD!!!!

LakerTom,
Note that I said "overall". If he plays like game 6, great. But he hasn't done that consistently.

ex,

Fair enough. I agree.

Tom

Hello Laker fans. Hate to rain on your little parade here but we are looking forward to another group of people and analysts who have yet to understand this Magic team. I hope to enlighten you over the next couple of days to help you realize how much trouble you guys are in:

1. You forgot some things. Orlando is 3-1 against LA in the last 2 years.
2. There is no one on LA front line that can stop Howard. Just look at Gasol vs Howard in the past. Neither can Bynum. Have lots of fouls to give does not stop a player. Very poor reasoning.
3. Since LA cant stop Howard that will open all of Orlando's offensive weapons. The Magic will be able to score plenty of points to win this series.
4. So it comes down to the one thing you did not mention. Orlando has the best team defense in the league. They can slow down LA's offense enough to win. That is the one thing eveyone keeps missing every time experts predict the Magic will lose, Philly, Boston, Cleveland, and now LA. Big mistake. We know this here in Orlando and you guys keep missing this.
5. The last thing you miss is, as the series goes deeper Orlando has the advantage, we have the best frontline in basketball and have great backups in all three positions. Pietrus, Battie, and Gortat would be starters for most teams in the NBA. This leads to two false conclusions about the Magic.
A. Get Howard in foul trouble and they are in trouble. Not true we lose very little when he goes out even for 20-30 minutes in a game.
B. By the time you get to games 5,6,7 we have worn out every teams frontline and they collapse. Boston, Philly, Cleveland and so will LA. So change your prediction while you can. We can score against anybody but our defense is what wins our games. With 5 minutes left in a game and with the lead Orlando is 48-1. No one is as good as that in the NBA.

 
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