Two down at home, two more on the road and the LA Lakers’ journey for their first NBA title in the post-Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant tandem will soon be complete.
Though Pau Gasol is not as strong and as quick as O’Neal in the middle, the seven-foot Spanish center-forward has proven his effectiveness in playing a great support role to Kobe on offense.
After scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in LA’s 100-75 Game 1 rout over Orlando, Gasol finished with 20 points and eight rebounds in Game 2, which saw the Lakers escape with a 101-96 overtime win.
Kobe had a “quiet” 29 points after exploding for 40 in the Finals opener.
But Kobe downplayed LA’s 2-0 series lead, saying they haven’t achieved anything yet.
Going into Games 3-5 which will all be played at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida, the Lakers need to beat the Magic two of three games there to wrap up their 15th NBA title in 30 championship appearances.
But the visit to the Amway Arena won’t be easy. Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers knew how difficult it is to play there, having lost three straight games there that cost them the Eastern Conference title.
But history is on the side of LA.
Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1985, 11 of 12 teams winning the first two games went on to win the championship.
The only team that failed to win the NBA title after starting off 2-0, was Dallas, which lost the next four games to Miami. The Heat clinched the championship and the series, 4-2.
The Lakers, though just can’t rely on history. They have to continually play with consistency on defense and offense to wrap up the title.
Or the Magic, known for their resilience and ability to bounce back could turn things around, and who knows, Orlando could find itself back in the series.