It doesn’t make much sense to frame the Lakers-Magic matchup in these NBA Finals as some sort of a revenge scenario for either LA’s Pau Gasol or Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Sure, Howard’s Team USA did beat Gasol’s slant-eyed Spanish squad in the gold medal game in Beijing less than a year ago. But Gasol carried the bulk of Spain’s production in that game, scoring 21 points on 18 shots, while Howard and his whopping 8 points delegated to the backcourt, which is what you do when you have Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and only one ball. That’s hardly a fair fight, even if it is against Spain.
That said, the Howard-Gasol redux could be the pivotal matchup in these finals, with apologies to Kobe Bryant and Hedo Turkoglu. Howard will have to not only defend Gasol, but produce on the offensive end to keep the Lakers’ pressure from focusing on the perimeter game. And the Lakers will be a matchup similar to the team that they just put down–legendary point guard, couple of big seven-footers in the post, and about four or five dudes that try to stay out of the way. That’s bad news for the Lakers, whose effort in big games has been hit-and-miss throughout these playoffs. If LA doesn’t storm out of the gate and keep home-court advantage, Gasol might again find his team finishing in second place.
Game One of the NBA Finals is Thursday night at 9 ET on ABC. That’s also the Season 3 premeire of Burn Notice. Eh, there’s always Game Two.