The Lakers and Magic are very skilled offensive squads. They have guys that can shoot, post threats and guys that come in and score off the bench. The only thing that will stop one team from dominating the scoreboard is defense. So that brings me my question: how should each team matchup against each other?
Here's the starting lineups I would use:
The only thing I struggled with was if Odom should start or not. I feel like he should start in order to match the versatility of Orlando. What I would do with Odom is match his minutes with Lewis' minutes. That way he sees the only other player who has similar size and skills when he's in the game. That will help LA better contain Rashard.
Looking at the other positions; the point guard matchup is in Orlando's favor. Derek Fisher has had his struggles in the playoffs; but he still has a chance to redeem himself. I've noticed that he's starting to change plays a lot less though. It's more about making the occasional jumper with him. He also has to play solid, team defense and know when and when not to help.
Rafer Alston brings more of a punch to the Magic. He gets the Magic into their offense and makes solid drives to the basket which produce something for him or his teammates. What you never know is if his jump shot is going or not. That's something he'll have to make sure he's hitting if the Magic want to win the title.
Obviously, the Lakers have the edge at shooting guard (Kobe's the first or second best in the league, take your pick). Kobe will choose how he wants to play from the opening tip. You never know when he wants to get his own scoring going, or when he wants to get the rest of the Lakers going (be the decoy, as he call it).
Kobe will look at film of his man, Courtney Lee. Lee is a solid rookie, but Kobe will give him some space for his shot. Not a ton, but enough for him to have a look if he needs it. Lee is a decent spot up shooter, but he's not one to look to shoot contested three's. Kobe has to defend his slashes to the basket well. Keeping his hands straight up and hope the ref's don't call any ticky-tak foul.
Overall, the Lakers one-up the Magic at small forward. Trevor Ariza does a lot more than provide an offensive spark. He is an active defender, and an active part of the offense. He makes key plays down the stretch that don't just involve offense. That's what gives him the advantage.
Hedo Turkoglu could have the advantage. Problem is he's not an active enough defender. He will do a halfway decent job on D; but he's certainly no Ariza. For him, he has to make better drive to the basket. I feel like sometimes he makes very soft drives to the bucket. He has to makes his play without expecting the refs to give the benefit of the doubt. If he stays focused, he can definitely give the Magic an offensive lift.
I disscussed the power forward spot earlier. I will say I'm not sure who has the advantage at the position though. It really depends on how Lamar approaches each game. If the great version of Lamar come to play, he's the better player. But you never know which player will come in. So, Lewis will have the upper hand some nights, but so will Lamar.
The center spot is the toughest for me to decide. I will say that today Pau Gasol is a more complete player than Dwight Howard. But, with the way Dwight's performed of late, I find it hard not to give him the edge. Help me out here, readers! Tell me who you think has the edge in the comments!
If Dwight makes the Lakers pay for making him shoot free throws (by making them, I mean), he may be better. But if he picks up early fouls, Pau will have the advantage. I am really torn!
Keep your eyes peeled for more finals coverage! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter!