TrueHoop: Shquille O\'Neal
Matchup problems are a two-way street, you know. For Magic fans, this trip up the mountain feels a whole lot different. And it's time for certain GMs to make some tough decisions about their 2010 free agents.
Bill Bridges of Forum Blue & Gold: "The focus of the pre-series review has emphasized that the Magic pose matchup problems for the Lakers. Perhaps. However, I contend that the matchup problems that the Lakers pose for the Magic dwarf the former ... [Trevor] Ariza on [Hedo] Turkoglu? No mismatch there. Then how will [Rashard] Lewis punish [Pau] Gasol? Not by posting him up obviously. By shooting perimeter shots? As Memo knows, Lewis will be surprised at how good Gasol is at defending the perimeter jump shot. He will find that shooting jumpers over the length of Pau's outstretched fingers not quite as easy as shooting over Mo Williams or Delonte West. Lewis' best chance is to take Gasol on the drive. Even here as well the advantage is not so clear cut ... Phil [Jackson] must see Gasol versus Lewis and be licking his pleasingly-smooth chops. Move Gasol around on the block, get him the ball, make strong cuts and what do you have? Single-covered, easy scores by Gasol. Double-covered, layups by cutters, open 3's by Ariza/[Derek] Fisher/Kobe [Bryant], and fouls on [Dwight] Howard defending the basket. This mismatch might become such a problem that I predict that SVG is the first to blink and play a Howard/[Marcin] Gortat front line to counter."
Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "You could say the local team spirit has returned to the glory of 1995, the last time the Magic reached the NBA Finals. Only this time, it's better. Back then, the city didn't really know what to think. The sudden trip to the NBA Finals was unexpected, exhilarating, and spoiling for the Magic fan base, which really didn't understand how lucky it was. After all, some franchises go decades without reaching the NBA Finals. The Magic franchise was only five years old, and there weren't any lifelong fans who suffered through some bad times ... Current fans of the team -- the ones who've been following the team since the Shaq days -- have suffered through some pretty upsetting times. Shaq's departure, Penny Hardaway's injuries, Grant Hill's injuries, T-Mac's falling out, the 21-win season, Fran Vazquez -- please, somebody stop me ... The Magic weren't just a bad team post-Shaq. They were, at times, a poorly run team that seemed to have little idea on what it took to build a successful team. The players suffered, the team suffered, and the fans suffered. Of course, the current regime doesn't fall under that umbrella. These guys have done an amazing job building this team, and here we are: the NBA Finals. It feels good."
Jeff McMenamin of Philadunkia: "As Eddie Jordan walked up to the Sixers podium in the press room he wasn't a man who was nervous but a man who was calm, collected, and ready to take this young Sixers team to the next level ... Jordan is big on X's and O's and he is a very vocal and charismatic coach, something the Sixers haven't been used to seeing in a long time ... The word which Jordan used a lot during his press conference was 'team.' For a supposed team that tore apart at the end of this season, that is a word that must be a point of focus during the off-season. Players were throwing blame in all the wrong places and the quiet locker room we all thought the Sixers had turned into an army test base. Even team leaders like Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller were firing off rounds. One of the ways in which Eddie Jordan thinks the Sixers will become a 'team' once again is through the use of the Princeton offense."
(Photos by Lisa Blumenfeld, Fernando Medina, Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)