To quote Sir Chuck…”A playoff series doesn’t officially start until someone wins a game in the other persons building.” Thats where we are at today on the eve of Game Three. As I said in my previous post, what the Lakers did was basically hold serve and protect homecourt. The pressure is now on the Magic to do the same. Lets take a look back at how each team has fared thus far in the playoffs..the Lakers on the road and the Magic at home.
First the Magic at Home in the 2009 Playoffs:
In the first round against the Sixers the Magic went 2-1 in Orlando. There only loss coming in Game One when Andre Iguodala capped off an impressive all around game (20-8-8) with his improbable game winning jump shot over Hedo Turkoglu (see video below). In the Magic’s two home wins (Game Two, and Game Five) they won by an average margin of victory of 11 points.
In round two against the Celtics the Magic did own home court advantage and had to wait, as they do now, till Game Three for their first game in Orlando. In Game Three the Magic erupted for 117 points, their wing tandem of Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis combining for 52 points. This also was the game Rafer Alston was suspended for after he slapped Eddie House in the head. The starting point guard that day? Anthony Johnson who had a modest stat line of 13 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals and finished +4. Anthony Johnson’s minutes thus far the finals..0. After that impressive performance the Magic promptly dropped Game Four in their building after Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ memorable game winning jump shot, followed by the shove of the year when Davis chose shoving a 12 year old Magic fan out of the way in celebration rather than just flat out barreling him over. The Magic returned home in Game Six down in the series 3-2 and needed a win to stay alive and were able to slug out an 83-75 victory over the Celtics making their second round home record be..2-1.
In the conference semi-finals vs the Cavaliers the Magic again did not own home court advantage. In Game Three, coming off the Lebron shot (slightly irrelevant now) loss the Magic responded with a 99-89 victory. In Game Four the Magic took total control of the series going up 3-1 with a ‘stat stuffer’ win of, 116-114. Rafer Alston was huge in this game finishing +18 and scoring 26 points going 6-12 from three. The Magic failed to close out the series in Cleveland in Game Five, so they got to travel back to Orlando for Game Six. In Game Six the Magic capped off the improbable series win behind Dwight’s Shaqesque stat line of 40 and 14. The Magic made Mickey Mouse proud in this series going 3-0 at home.
So to review…the Magic in these playoffs have been 7-2 in the playoffs. Dwight Howard is averaging 24.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg compared to his 18.1 and 11.5 on the road. So it is safe to assume Dwight may see a bump in points in this upcoming two (three if necessary) games. Another player who may benefit from a little ‘home cooking’ is Rafer Alston. Skip at home is shooting 41% from three but on the road he’s been a mere 25%. So his confidence may be restored in this home stand.
For the Lakers traveling road show in the 2009 Playoffs:
In their opening series vs. the Utah Jazz the Lakers went 1-1 on the road, their loss coming in Game Three, in similiar fashion to Magic’s..on a game winning shot. This time the hero was Deron Williams when he hit a fading shot over Lamar Odom, see video.
In the second round round the Lakers faced tough the tough task of the Houston Rockets. After both teams traded wins in L.A. the Lakers came out ready to play in Game Three and took a 108-94 win over the Rockets. Kobe was big in Game Three scoring 33 points. In Game Four the Lakers had a real shot of taking total control of the series after news of Yao Ming’s season ending due to a fracture in his foot. The Lakers however could not contain Aaron Brooks who scored 34 points and the Rockets evened the series by winning 99-87. In Game Six the Lakers again were on the road with a chance to close out the series but again they mailed in another poor performance. Only scoring 80 points the Lakers lost 95-80. Their road record in the second round was 1-2.
In the West semis vs. the Nuggets the Lakers held homecourt advantage and went on the road in Game Three with the series tied 1-1. The Lakers after failing to perform on the road against the Rockets went out took the game, winning by six, 103-97. Kobe had his highest scoring game of the playoffs going off for 41 points on 24 shots. In Game Four their defense let them down as they surrended 120 points to the Nuggets in a loss. Coming back to Denver in Game Six with a chance to close out the series the Lakers played arguably their best game of these playoffs winning 119-92. Kobe played one of his most effecient games yet scoring 35 points on just 20 shots and was +31 in the game. The Lakers in the conference finals were 2-1 on the road.
So to review…the Lakers on the road in these playoffs have a record of .500 going 4-4 so far. Not quite the road warrior status of the NY Giants of 2008, but an adequate enough job. Taking a look at some of the numbers the Lakers as a team on the road have scored 99 ppg while at home they are up around 105. Interestingly though the Lakers defense are surrendering the exact same 95.2 ppg to opponents both home and away. Kobe’s points actually rise slightly on the road going from 29.7 at home to 30.8, but he also takes two more attempts when in purple.
So there you have it. Its quite obvious the Magic’s play, especially Dwight, is aided by the home crowd. That one could argue is the mark of an inexperienced team or maybe whoever cooks Dwights meals for him in Orlando doesn’t travel with him to away games.
The Lakers on the other hand, like the steady, playoff experienced team they are, have an even 4-4 record at home. Most of their individual numbers are the same also as their are no swings in field goal percentages like that of Rafer Alston. The Lakers have also been good of taking Game Three’s as they did in both the Rockets and Nuggets series.
We’ll see how this one plays out, but you have to believe the Magic are going to have one crazy shooting night where they shoot around 50 percent from three and score like 115 points. I get the feeling that Game Three will be that game for them. Orlando is now 0-6 in NBA Finals games.