Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Game 4 Adjustments: Lakers-Magic

1) Control the glass: in Game Two, Orlando dominated the glass and it allowed the team to stay in the game despite poor shooting. In Game Three, Los Angeles got to the offensive glass and it allowed the team to stay in the game despite poor(er) shooting.

It is clear winning the rebounding battle is a key to winning this series. It has been the great equalizer so far in this series.

Orlando is not a team that commits itself to rebounding. It relies on Dwight Howard to do a lot of dirty work and he is often left alone in the pain on the offensive glass. With the Magic trying to pick up the pace in this series, they are committing less players to the defensive glass.

Granted, much of the Lakers' offensive rebounds came from fortunate bounces. But it is still difficult to justify the shooter getting his own rebound time and time again.

Orlando has to put in a much more concerted effort to get to the glass and secure rebounds. The Magic cannot expect to shoot above 60 percent the rest of this series -- a nice dream, sure. And the best way to ensure the Lakers do not get extra possessions is to eliminate those extra possessions on the glass.

Los Angeles was in this game in the end because the team got some timely boards and converted second chance opportunities. There were not a lot of rebounds to be had for the Lakers, but they converted off the missed shots and made the Magic pay for this mistake.

2) Continue attacking off pick and roll and work inside-out: it is the basis for the Magic's offense, but be sure the Lakers will find a new way to defend the pick and roll and make some adjustments.

Whatever Los Angeles throws at Orlando in Game Four, Orlando must continue to attack off the dribble in pick and roll and look to get into the paint. The great thing the Magic did in Game Three was not to settle for 3-pointers and drive to the basket.

Orlando shot only 14 three point shots, far below the 20 the team seems to take every game. This was not by accident. The Magic had plenty of looks from beyond the arc -- and plenty of open shots that rimmed out -- but instead looked to get to the basket and keep moving the ball.

The Magic must keep this mentality. Three-pointers have to come from drives and dishes while the defense is trying to reset. It cannot be an in-out action. It has to be in-out-back in-back out. And that should really only be when defenders are packing the paint because they have stopped the first and second drive.

This is especially off the pick and rolls. For much of Game One and Game Two, the Magic were passive coming off pick and rolls. In Game Three, Rafer Alston was looking to attack and get to the rim. Hedo Turkoglu was looking to attack and get to the rim. And the team, in general, was looking to get Dwight Howard the ball moving across the lane when he had deep position.

This is the type of game Orlando will need to replicate to win Game Four.

3) Be physical: this was a key to the series, but it bears repeating. Orlando needs to be physical with Los Angeles.

The Magic did a great job forcing Bryant to the perimeter. He was looking to attack through jumpers and not by getting to the basket. That makes things easier for Orlando. Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee did a great job in Game Three. Expect Bryant to look to attack more Thursday.

Now the rest of the team must muscle up -- especially Rashard Lewis. It is tough for Lewis to try and outmuscle Pau Gasol. But he has to find a way to push Gasol out of the paint on post ups. Gasol might be too tall an order to do this.

But Lamar Odom certainly is not. Lewis needs to continue to match Odom's physicality for Orlando to have success in this series (it is clear Andrew Bynum will be on the bench at the end of games).

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