It’s a perfect matchup, ordained by the stars: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, arguably the planet’s most electrifying players, clash for the first time on the brightly lit stage of the NBA Finals.
It’s a perfect matchup, ordained by the stars: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, arguably the planet’s most electrifying players, clash for the first time on the brightly lit stage of the NBA Finals. The league’s executive office (not to mention the big name sneaker and sports drink companies) could dream of nothing better than a Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers championship series.
Only one thing stands in the way of this reality—that thing is 6-foot-11, 265 pounds and reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are putting all sorts of detours on James’ Cavaliers’ road to the finals, leading the series 2-1 heading into Tuesday night’s game in Orlando.
The Cavs dominated their competition up to this series, rolling to a league-best 66-16 regular season record behind their trademark stifling defense and the increased offensive production from James’ supporting cast. That support, though, has been sporadic at best in the conference finals, leaving James to shoulder the load himself against the prolific three-point shooting of the Magic.
Though James has averaged a herculean 41.6 points per game in the series and sunk perhaps the biggest shot of his career, a game-winning three-pointer in game two, his teammates have failed to rise to the occasion. Big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao have been outmatched on the post by the stronger Howard, and the backcourt combination of Mo Williams and Delonte West has been downright spectral.
The more balanced Magic, however, have launched an even attack, with Howard bullying the boards and the hot-shooting Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis stretching Cleveland’s defense thin.
With a 2-1 advantage, Orlando certainly seems to have the edge in the series heading into tonight’s game. Expect them to continue their solid play, and you can be sure Lebron James will take the court with the same vehemence he’s displayed this entire postseason. The only question is, will any of his Cavaliers’ teammates join him?