Sunday, May 31, 2009


The Orlando Magic reminded us all of the classic adage; NEVER put the cart before the horse.

These are certainly not the NBA Finals most of you wanted, but it’s the series that might provide the better show.

I’ll give you time to pick up your jaw.

Sometimes, the best matchups in sports are not always about superstar player versus superstar player in nearly the same position. The majority salivated from the thought of Kobe Bryant versus LeBron James as the best shooting guard and best small forward in the game would have defended each other for most of the Dream Finals. Yet, now, we have one of the game’s best backcourts in Los Angeles going against one of its best frontlines with those proverbial ‘X-factors’ littered all over.

Let’s cut through all of the broken dreams and the exaggerated “I’m not watching the NBA ever again” histrionics that many people are taking on. If this generation’s Dream Finals came to fruition, based on the game play we ‘witnessed’ in the Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers would have been destroyed in a sweep.

If those Cavaliers – with LeBron James having to do everything short of tying his teammates’ shoes, it seemed – could not get past the Orlando Magic, did you honestly think that they would match shot for shot with the Lake Show? The Magic has a pretty good roster; shooters abound with Hedo Turkoglu, Mickael Pietrus and Rashard Lewis (who has been the best second-fiddle this postseason), heady point guard play between Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson and the overlooked backup center in Marcin Gortat.

The Cavs, while still boasting a solid roster, would have had no answer for the depth of forwards the Lakers boasts between Pau Gasol, Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom (who could be a sixth man or starter, depending on matchups). Even the Lakers’ bench, as inconsistent as it had been for stretches in the season, is superior to Cleveland’s as Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Sasha Vujacic and Shannon Brown certainly provide more than Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Daniel Gibson, Joe Smith and Sasha Pavlovic.

Of course, the most intriguing one-on-one matchup will be between the beast that is Dwight Howard and the coming-back-to-form Andrew Bynum. It may not be Patrick Ewing versus Hakeem Olajuwon in the best pairing of centers in the last two decades of the Finals, but there’s a potential for a classic battle in the paint.

To those who opined for Kobe-versus-LeBron, there was a pretty good chance that you would have been more than disappointed. Kobe-versus-Courtney Lee doesn’t scream ‘marquee matchup’, but the Lakers versus the Magic may be the best way to cap off what has been a banner year for the league.

Say What?!?!: While I believe that ratings should be taken in the proper context, TV by the Numbers wants to know how you think these Finals will fare. I say pretty well.

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