"No mercy" was what Kobe said in the huddle, heard on ESPN Game Trax as the Lakers stretched the lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter. It reminded me of the Cobra Kai sensei in the movie Karate Kid. "There is no mercy in this dojo!!!" Kobe reminds me a lot of a villain in the movie, he's an ice cold executioner under pressure and ruthless when he senses a weakness. Everyone hates him, but he commands the respect of his toughest critics with his will to win. That's certainly not a negative trait if you're trying to win a championship.
The Nuggets turned into a pumpkin as the Lakers delivered the knock out blow and now await an opponent in the NBA Finals. What happened? How were the Lakers able to make the Nugs look so bad? Granted, the Lake Show executed as well as they have all playoffs, going inside out, utilizing Pau Gasol, and Kobe...well, let's just say he was doin' work.
The Lakers exposed the Nuggets as not having a strong basketball I.Q. outside of Chauncy Billups, as they committed a slew of frustration fouls and got broken down on defense time after time. Carmello played lackadaisical defense, JR Smith heated up too late, and why the hell was Kenyon Martin shooting jumpers? The Lakers had a game plan and executed the Nuggets to death.
The Magic have looked better than the Cavs and are one game away from a trip to the Finals to play the Lakers. Th Cavs gained big momentum last night in game 5, as LeBron showed more trust in his team mates and got some scoring support from his back court. Mo Williams showed signs of the play that earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Now the question is: which team has the best shot against the Lakers? Cavs or Magic?
The answer is the Cavs. While the Magic have outplayed the Cavs up to this point, the Cavs match up better. I realize the Magic have Dwight Howard to counter the Lakers front line, but Howard would be in foul trouble early trying to guard Gasol. The reason I don't like the Magic against the Lakers is because the Lakers are capable of exploiting the Magic's Achilles heal, defensive transition on the fast break. The key to winning against the Magic is to secure defensive rebounds and push the ball up court in the fast break. Plus, the Lakers can switch on Orlando's pick and roll. (that's all they run)
The Lakers don't have an answer for LeBron James, so if they meet the Cavs in the Finals, expect the Lakers to congest the middle and force LeBron and the Cavs to make jump shots. If the Cavs get to the Finals, they will have picked up their defense back to the high level attained during the regular season. Who's to say the Lakers and Cavs will meet in the Finals? The Magic mght have an objection...