The Five Keys to the NBA's Final Four

Monday, May 18, 2009 - 07:24 AM

The best team generally wins.. A 7-game series makes it very tough for the underdog team to come out on top. The length of the playoff tends to compensate for flukes or temporary streaks. The team with the better season record gets the home-court advantage for any Game 7 — and 82% of home teams win the seventh game. So look for close series in both the East and the West.

It's raining 3s. If you have guys like the Magic’s J.J. Redick, Mikael Pietrus, and their star Hedo Turkaglo (who dropped 61% of their shots from 3-point range while playing tough interior defense), you're in luck. Hitting three-pointers sucks the spirit out of your opponent's defenders and can take the drama out of the game as it gets late. All four teams in this round — Magic vs Cavaliers and Lakers vs Nuggets — have tough defense. Three-pointers will be a big factor.

Marquee match-ups. The Cavaliers, of course, are the favorites in the East, but they are susceptible to the Magic, who won the season series against the Cavs this year. LeBron's supporting cast includes the energetic DeLonte West who should present problems for the Magic. In the West, Kobe may look boring on film but never on the court. L.A. has won the season series but Denver offers up match-up problems with their rangy defenders. "Birdman" Anderson and Nene Hilario underneath are the key to stop a surging Andrew Bynum and a tough, resurgent Pau Gasol.

Role Players Rule. In big games like this, with star match ups and franchise players, it's often the guys under the radar who suddenly come up big. The Lakers will look to Trevor Ariza and the Nuggets J.R. Smith to play the spoiler. On the East, the Magic have a team full of role players. They'll have to play super-tough defense and get rebounds. Dwight Howard needs at least 3 blocks a game to claim victory.

Intangibles. You like guys this time of the year that have been through the rough times. No statistics, no measure of physical ability, just that intangible sensibility or wisdom and keen focus that it takes to perform consistently at a high level.

Everyone wants to see Kobe go against LeBron. But don't count on it. This when even larger than life egos realize it takes a team to win a championship. So whichever of the surviving superstars can be the least selfish when it matters the most will come out ion top. I predict the Magic in 6, Denver Nuggets in 7.

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Comments [7]

ibrahim abdul-matin

Biko, i think the NBA would salivate over Kobe and Lebron. Just imagine if Lebron were in a "real" media market like NYC or Boston - the NBA is already proving to be recession proof, it would just tip the balance and make it super great ultimate recession proof. Bring Lebron to NYC!

May. 19 2009 11:52 AM
biko

I hope it's kobe vs lebron!!1

May. 19 2009 08:42 AM
tuttafucco

Though I personally think it's going to be a Kobe-Lebron final I'm inclined to go the other way simply because the "experts" also think that. This years playoffs has been wrought with many unexpected occurrences. I don't recall anyone picking Denver in the Conf. Finals before the playoffs began.

And do you recall seeing THIS many series go 7 games? And how about a 7-game series that included 30 point leads in half of the games?

May. 18 2009 03:40 PM
Karim

I agree with everything except your conclusion: Although untested so far in the playoffs, the Cavs will take it in 6. And don't count out the Lakers just yet.

But really, in both series I think it will come down to defense and cluth free-throws down the stretch.

May. 18 2009 03:19 PM
ibrahim

a pool? hm. that sounds like gambling and i am sure if i tried that i would surely lose!

seriously, what are predictions for who gets into the finals?

May. 18 2009 03:15 PM
J. Pablo

This writer obviously has a clear understanding on the dynamics of post season basketball. I want to read more!!

May. 18 2009 03:10 PM
Matt

Great recipe ibrahim. Though my predictions are different. I say lakers in 6, cavs in 6. Should we start a pool?

May. 18 2009 03:10 PM

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