The NBA Playoffs offer so much insight into the teams, coaches and players, one can’t help but be excited about all the strategy changes and maneuvering if you are true basketball fan and wagering on games. Sometimes the boxscore’s paint a picture and other times they don’t, just like Game 3. Would it seem possible Orlando would take nine fewer three-point tries than the Lakers, convert three less than Los Angeles and still come out on top? The high quality adjustment made by Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, having his squad push the ball at every opportunity, before the slow-reacting Lakers defenders reacted, helped Orlando shoot 62.5 percent, yet the Magic had the same number of fast break points as L.A. (10)
This all adds to tremendous intrigue for Game 4. It is the Lakers turn to adjust, having to win one of the next two contests in Central Florida, really placing the pressure on Orlando to win twice on the Left Coast. Oddsmakers in part see Los Angeles making the right moves, as DiamondSportsbook.com has them as 2.5-point underdogs, down from 4.5 in last contest. The Lakers are 10-2 ATS as an underdog this season and many people can’t foresee them being so off-kilter a second game in a row.
Los Angeles defenders took almost every fake, reacted poorly on defensive rotations, seldom getting a hand in the face of shooter or giving them clear path to the goal, like the Magic had free pass. L.A. shot free throws, well like Dwight Howard used to, converting on 16 of 26. At various points, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum played like some of the Seven Dwarfs (feel free to make this interactive article, by filling in your own matching dwarf with player performance). Kobe Bryant didn’t look like Kobe at crunch time and they will need him to have reversal of fortune quickly or this series will be 2-2.
For Los Angeles to improve on 14-6 ATS record as road underdog of 4.5 or less points, Lakers guards have to do better job feeding the post to Pau Gasol and Odom and they need to be more alert and ready. Hustle back on defense and be ready to defend the entire shot clock time, not just the parts that fit into schedule. Offensively, a more conventional return to triangle offensive, since isolation and top of the key screen and rolls were well defended by Orlando and might have contributed to Bryant appearing so fatigued late in the contest.
Orlando didn’t cover, but won the game. They are well-suited 20-6 ATS when the line is +3 to -3 this season. The Magic played at tempo more suitable to players like Rafer Alston and Dwight Howard in Game 3. Alston’s ability to push the ball led to more open shots, (which he made) and Howard’s skill as athlete showed thru, as he also ran the floor and made hard cuts to the hoop.
Hedu Turkoglu was a dominant contributor, even making just one three-pointer, dishing the ball for seven assists, while converting 7 of 12 shots. Mickael Pietrus toasted L.A. for 18 points and played physical with Kobe and the Magic double-teams were better timed, making Bryant less effective.
Game 3’s total was Over and oddsmakers adjusted upward, raising the figure to 201.5. This is potentially swell news for Orlando backers, with the Magic 12-3 ATS at home game when the total is between 200 and 204.5 points. Van Gundy’s team needs to set the tempo and they are 12-4 UNDER at Amway Arena after a combined score of 205 points or more this season. The Lakers like-wise have to bring aggressiveness shown in four prior games, to first conflict in Orlando and are 13-3 UNDER off a road loss this year, winning by an average of over eight points per contest.
Game 4 will come down to adjustments and execution, though bettors might just want to ride the tide with underdog 7-1 ATS and the OVER 6-0 in Florida when these two clubs meet.