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What happened to the Magic's patented pick-and-roll? Their effective transition game? The sharpshooting from beyond the arc? Is it the Lakers' defensive pressure or has Orlando's inside-out offense gone off the rails?
Kurt Helin of Forum Blue & Gold: "The Orlando pick and roll is not really working all that well for them. As was noted before the series, a lot of times Orlando runs that just to try and get the defense scrambling, leading to an open three. But the Lakers are keeping their shape, defending that well. Not scrambling. (The threes Orlando got was because the Lakers decided to double Howard more in the third, which didn't work out.) ... Stan Van Gundy literally threw everything he could think of at the wall in game two -- he went big, he went without a point guard for the last nine minutes of the game, he hired a Shaman to curse the Lakers (okay, maybe not that). And he is 0-2. There are adjustments that Orlando can continue to make, but you get the feeling that they don't have a magic bullet here. They will not be swept as at least one game a few of those shots will fall and they will get some hometown calls. But do you really think they can win four out of five from the Lakers?"
Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "So far, the Lakers are outplaying, outcoaching and out-executing the Magic. They're forcing Dwight Howard to the baseline, where it's difficult to pass out of the double-team and their guards are slapping at the ball. They've all but shut down Orlando's transition game, staying disciplined with three defenders back at all times (which is part of the reason the Lakers grabbed only four offensive rebounds). They know the tendencies of [J.J.] Redick and [Rafer] Alston -- mainly, when they get in the lane they want to dish the ball instead of challenging a big man. The fact is, the Lakers did the bare minimum tonight to win. In the NBA Finals ... you don't worry about long-term tendencies, patterns or pace -- all that matters are wins and losses. The Magic need four of the former before they get two of the latter. Can they do it against this Lakers team? I don't know."
Graydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell: "As a counterbalance to the realities of geography, the Spurs have systematically focused their attention on foreign prospects. I use the term systematically for a reason: I don't believe our history of intensely scouting international talent is just a tendency. I believe it is a conscious attempt by management to expand the team's media market. Consider this example: You are scouting two 21 year old small forwards, each with similar builds and similar abilities. One may be a slightly better defender than the other, one may knock down threes at a slightly higher clip, but for all intents and purposes they have the same style and talent. But one of these players is from Happy Valley, Australia while the other is from Carlsbad, California and attended the University of Arizona. Which player is more valuable to your franchise? It doesn't take much mental effort to recognize the hidden value of the Australian. The Spurs are not going to be adding a foothold amongst the basketball fans in Southern California or Arizona any time soon. By drafting the Australian you instantaneously reach out to untapped sources of fan support."
THE FINAL WORD
Celtics Hub: Was Boston's offense better this season without Kevin Garnett?
Daily Thunder: Building a winner for the long term.
Knickerblogger: Marcin Gortat -- no Jerome James.
(Photos by Jed Jacobsohn, Garrett Ellwood, D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)