Thursday, June 11, 2009

Game 4 Predictions

Tonight, after another day without basketball, game four of the finals will be played. It's on ABC at 9 pm Eastern. So, who do I pick to win?

Well, I am having a hard time picking here. I know the Magic will not shoot the ball as well, the Laker defense will be better, but also the Magic are going to continue improving their spacing on the offensive end. All of those adjustments will make for an entertaining game, for sure.

I'll pick the Magic to win. The Lakers will be there and put themselves in position to win, though. It will come down to some key possessions. The Magic outplayed LA in crunch time last game. LA will execute better in crunch time, especially on offense. Also, Kobe's approach to this game will be different.

Kobe had the bulk of his scoring in the 2nd quarter in game three. This game will probably be different for him. He will come out looking to pass and then take on a more aggressive attitude towards his own offense. That's what scares me about picking Orlando.

Orlando really just needs to keep shooting well. If they do that, they can win a title. But, since it's obvious their hot shooting won't continue, they have to continue to win the rebound battle. They have won every rebound battle since the game one blowout (by an average of +5.5 rebounds in game two and three).

The keys to Orlando being successful are real simple: establish Dwight and Hedo early. If both of those guys find their way on offense, especially in the first quarter, they will play much better throughout the game. Then it just comes down to shooters nailing open jump shots. If they do that, there's no way LA can win a game in Orlando.

Another key for both teams is how they close out quarters. I track this by scoring in the last two minutes of quarters. Besides game one, where the teams canceled each other out, the team that has won this stat has won the game. The Lakers won game two and were +4 in the last two minutes of quarters. The Magic took game three and were +7.

As this series progresses, the team that wins this battle should win the game. Closing quarters well swings momentum, gives your team the lead and keeps you focused on winning that game.

I asked people on Twitter who they thought would win tonight and here's what they said:

Raptors_Central: Magic take this one if they shoot solid from the field and increase their margin of victory!

iamozzy: I did say Lakers in 6 but I have to give game 4 to LA. Orlando will have to use game 5 to tweak things and possibly win again.

Who do you have winning tonight??