Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 1 Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +6 at L.A. Lakers -6 O/U 206 9 PM ET Thursday June 4, 2009 on ABC
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals the L.A. Lakers host the Orlando Magic. Even though most fans and NBA brass wanted to see the Cavs vs. the Lakers and LeBron vs. Kobe, the Magic spoiled that party upsetting Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Magic beat the Cavs with a heavy dose of feeding the ball to Dwight Howard and because they were on fire shooting beyond the 3-point line.

The Lakers looked impressive winning the last 2 games of the Western Conference Finals because Kobe shared the ball more and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol started to help on offense.

The Magic beat the Lakers in their 2 meetings this season, but that may not really matter. In those games PG Jameer Nelson lit up the Lakers combining for 55 points, but he will probably not play in this series. Even though doctors have cleared him to play it would be surprising if he saw any action.

Game 1 is always big, but this one may be HUGE as Phil Jackson is 43-0 in series’ in which he has won the first game.

The Magic shot over 40% from 3-pt land in both wins against the Lakers this season AND in the series win over Cleveland and they will have to shoot lights out again tonight and in this series in order to be successful.

The sportsbooks have the Lakers as 6-point favorites in this game with a total around 206. The moneyline for this game has the Lakers as home favorites posted at -290 and the Magic as the road dogs posted at +240.

The Magic come into this game after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 6 at home 103-90 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 40 points on 14/21 shooting. For the game the Magic shot 37/80 for a FG% of 46.3%. On D the Magic allowed the Cavs to shoot 35/79 for a FG% of 44.3%.

The Lakers come into this game after beating the Denver Nuggets 119-92 on Friday night. The high scorer for the Lakers in that game was Kobe Bryant going for 35 points on 12/20 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 43/75 for a scorching FG% of 57.3%. On D the Lakers allowed the Nuggets to shoot 42/73 for a FG% of 43.8%.

This season the Lakers ranked 3rd in scoring (106.7 ppg) and the Magic ranked 10th (101 ppg). On defense the Magic were better in terms of points allowed as they were at 94.4 ppg this season and the Lakers were at 99.1 ppg. This season the Lakers had a rebounding differential of +2.6 rpg and the Magic were at 1.1 rpg.

The Magic need to run in this game and in the series, as the Lakers are not a great transition defense team, as they are much better at half court defense.

The Lakers big men of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum have to step up on D and not let Howard dominate inside.

The Lakers are better then the Cavs in defending the 3 and they need to do that tonight and now allow the Magic to bomb away from downtown.

If the Lakers spread their offense around and Kobe Bryant does not take a ton of shots they will be tough to beat. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol have to help Kobe out on offense and score some points.

Andrew Bynum has not played great in the post season, but if he has a good series, especially on defense, the Lakers will win.

Rafer Alston was up and down in the Eastern Conference Finals and he will have to score some buckets and not turn the ball over in Game 1. He also needs to set an up-tempo style and dish the rock well to give the Magic some easy transition buckets.

Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu are the keys for the Magic in this game, as they have to shoot well and open up the floor so Howard can have some space in the paint.

The Lakers have the deepest bench in the league and they will be fresh and be able to play D and score some points, which is something the Cavs could not do against the Magic.

Game 1 will set the tone for the series and the Magic can show they are a legit contender if they can steal Game 1 in Tinsel Town.

Jason’s Pick: The Magic haven’t gotten any respect all throughout the playoffs. I think they can stay within the 6 point spread. Whether they can win straight up on the road in this game is anybody’s guess though.