The Lakers made their strongest adjustment of the series Wednesday night. The Magic's simple adjustment in the conference finals? Draining open looks. And Tyrus Thomas should adjust his game by launching fewer two-point jumpers.
Kurt Helin of Forum Blue & Gold: " One thing the Lakers did much better was handle the aggressive double teams and traps of Denver. Especially when it happened to Pau Gasol, he had been kicking it out for a three, which the Laker guards had been mostly missing. Tonight it was Kobe [Bryant] trapped in the corner passing to Gasol single-covered in the post. Or, if Gasol was doubled in the post he could hand off to the cutter going right by him. The Lakers moved without the ball when there was a double, and that led to layups. And, that is something that can happen in Denver. That was not about friendly home rims, it was about effort and willingness to take the punishment to be the aggressor."
M. Haubs of The Painted Area: "Make shots. For all the analysis, sometimes basketball just boils down to something so simple: Can you make your open shots? Simply making or missing open threes has been a key factor not only in the Magic-Cavs series, but in the entire Orlando postseason ... In the First Round, Orlando struggled to outlast an inferior Philly team in part because they only hit .346 for the series, while the Sixers -- who were the worst 3pt-shooting team in the regular season at .318 -- outshot them from distance for the series at .368. In the Conference Semis, both the Magic and the Celtics (who were 1st in the NBA in 3pt% at .397) suffered colossal shooting slumps until Orlando broke through with a 13-21 performance on threes which keyed the Game 7 blowout in Boston. To that point, Orlando had been just 43-141 (.305) for the series (the C's were just .289 for the entire series). Now, mercifully for Magic fans, the tide has finally turned, as they have connected on an average of 10.5-24.5 (.429) 3's in Conference Finals, including 17-38 in Game 4, and they've done it against a Cleveland team that ranked 1st in 3pt FG% defense at .333."
Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: "Al Horford's season is fairly straightforward to recap: He's a delight to watch on both ends of the floor, he's not a big enough part of the offense, and that fact combined with the time he missed due to injury might have obscured the encouraging and, one hopes, significant improvements he made in his second year in the league ... Horford didn't improve his numbers because his team made better or more frequent use of him. Al Horford improved because he improved his skills and decision-making. I'm worried about the long-term production of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and (if they return) Mike Bibby and Flip Murray, but I'm confident that Al Horford gives the Hawks a fairly untapped offensive resource which could build upon his solid rebounding and defensive play to create an excellent NBA player. He's the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster and the most likely member of the current roster to be on a Hawks team that reaches the Eastern Conference finals should that accomplishment ever come to pass."
(Photos by Kevork Djansezian, Nathaniel S. Butler, Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)